Microsoft is pushing ahead with the delivery of the mixed reality technology to the U.S. Army—worth $479 million—despite protesting employees.
NEWSREP reported that last Friday a group of 50 Microsoft employees wrote an open letter addressed to CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith. The group, calling themselves “Microsoft Workers 4 Good” demanded in the letter:
- Cancel the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS);
- Cease developing any and all weapons technology, and draft a public facing use policy clarifying this commitment;
- Appoint an independent, external ethics review board with the power to enforce and publicly validate compliance with its acceptable use policy.
However, Microsoft refuses to back down from the contract, an employee spokesman told Nextgov on Monday. The company took a different stance to Google, which backed out of the Maven program earlier last year amid growing protest of its workers.
The spokesperson stated to Nextgov: “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,” he said, adding, “We’re committed to providing our technology to the U.S. Department of Defense … [and] we’ll remain engaged as an active corporate citizen in addressing the important ethical and public policy issues relating to AI and the military.”