“We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.”
“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. In fact, we heard from many employees throughout the fall. As we said then, we’re committed to providing our technology to the U.S. Department of Defense, which includes the U.S. 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.”
Original story follows:
A group of employees at Microsoft has begun protesting the use of its HoloLens technology following a multimillion contract with the United States Army.
Reported by GamesIndustry.biz, the group known as Microsoft Workers 4 Good, which was started in January, posted an open letter on Twitter to Microsoft’s Brad Smith and Satya Nadella, demanding the cancellation of the $479 million contract and stricter ethical guidelines.
IGN has reached out to Microsoft for comment.
On behalf of workers at Microsoft, we’re releasing an open letter to Brad Smith and Satya Nadella, demanding for the cancelation of the IVAS contract with a call for stricter ethical guidelines. If you’re a Microsoft employee you can sign at: https://t.co/958AhvIHO5 pic.twitter.com/uUZ5P4FJ7X
— Microsoft Workers 4 Good (@MsWorkers4) February 22, 2019
“We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the U.S. Military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built,” reads the letter. “We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.”
“The application of HoloLens within the IVAS [Integrated Visual Augmented System] is designed to help kill people. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated ‘video game,’ further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed. Intent to harm is not an acceptable use of our technology.”
Microsoft Workers 4 Good is demanding that Microsoft cancel the IVAS contract, cease developing weapons technologies, draft a public-facing acceptable use policy, and appoint an independent ethics review board to enforce this policy.
The letter continued, saying “There are many engineers who contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed, believing it would be used to help architects and engineers build buildings and cars, to help teach people how to perform surgery or play the piano, to push the boundaries of gaming, and to connect with the Mars Rover (RIP).”
It was revealed that Microsoft won the IVAS contract with the U.S. Army back in November, at which point it was announced Microsoft would supply prototypes for its augmented reality systems for use in combat missions and training.
Additionally, rumors of a new HoloLens system have proven to be true, as Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens 2 over the weekend.