Various military forces around the world have expressed a very strong interest in VR or AR technology. This is largely for implementation either in training or actually on the battlefield. This is, however, ethically a rather difficult situation as the technology companies that create these devices much balance out the public opinion with the highly lucrative contracts on offer.
Last November, however, it was revealed that Microsoft had undertaken a contract with the US Army in regards to the utilisation of their ‘HoloLens’ AR technology. In a report via The Verge, however, many of Microsoft’s workers have written an open letter to the company essentially demanding that the contract is dropped. It isn’t, however, (as you might expect) as simple as that.
The letter has been sent to CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith with it reportedly having been signed by several dozen prominent Microsoft staff members within the HoloLens team. It says: “We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US Military, helping one 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 organisers are also keen to rally further support from other employees at the company.
Following a website being created for the letter, the organisers are openly inviting other Microsoft staff members to sign it. Their hope is that if enough employees show their distaste at the deal, Microsoft may cancel the contract. Given that it was worth around $500m, however, I can’t see Microsoft taking this decision lightly. Let’s be honest as well. If Microsoft didn’t get the contract, someone else would have.
Yes, they don’t want angry or upset employees. Then again, money is money! – It’ll be interesting to see what decision both parties take.
What do you think? Should Microsoft cancel their army contract? Is this just the reality of being a big tech company? – Let us know in the comments!
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