“We did not sign up to develop weapons”– their protest against the HoloLens contract with the US Army.
A group from Microsoft has protested against the continuation of the HoloLens Contract, which was made with the US Army.
The Letter Of Protest On Hololens
The group dedicated a letter of protest to the CEO Satya Nadella and President and Chief Legal officer Brad Smith stating that “We’re a global coalition of Microsoft Workers and we refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression.”
The letter also stated that “We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US military. Helping one’s country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built. We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used”.
The whole concept of HoloLens is that it will combine Augmented Reality with combat; which will provide the US soldiers a whole new level of advancement. In November, Microsoft bagged a $480 contract from the US Army; for supplying the army with prototypes of HoloLens.
Microsoft replied to the letter of protest stating that “We gave this issue careful consideration and outlined our perspective in an October 2018 blog. We always appreciate feedback from employees and provide many avenues for their voices to be heard”.
Microsoft also mentioned in their reply that “We’re committed to providing our technology to the US Department of Defence; which includes the US Army under this contract. As we’ve also said, we’ll remain engaged as an active corporate citizen in addressing the important ethical and public policy issues relating to AI and the Military”.
Pentagon Project Maven
The previous year Google faced some similar protest from its employees related to the Pentagon’ Project Maven. Project Maven focussed on providing much more detailed footage from the Drone using AI. But this project faced serious protest, and a small group resigned. More than 4000 employees signed a petition addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai, for terminating the concerned project.
Ultimately Google terminated project Maven but mentioned that it’ll still work for the military.