Microsoft workers protest $480m HoloLens military deal: ‘We did not sign up to develop weapons’March 13, 2019
Dozens of Microsoft employees have signed a letter protesting the company’s $480 million contract to supply the U.S. Army with augmented reality headsets intended for use on the battlefield.
“We are a global coalition of Microsoft workers, and we refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression,” the employees state in the letter, which was published on an internal message board and circulated via email to employees at the company Friday. More than 50 Microsoft employees signed their names to the letter. Microsoft employees almost 135,000 people worldwide.
“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 letter said.
A lot of people feel uncomfortable about being involved in war-related business or producing weapons that hurt other people,” one Microsoft employee, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told NBC News. “To me, it’s a basic violation of Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and organization on the planet to do more.”
“Although I believe in security and military action for a morally justifiable cause, I take issue with the language of ‘lethality’,” software developer Monte Michaelis added. Michaelis worked on HoloLens for two years but left Microsoft in 2018 to join New York City-based content agency Arkadium. “There are appropriate applications for mixed reality in a military setting, but I would not want to be designing an experience where my goal was to more efficiently kill people.”