Microsoft has entered an agreement with the United States Army to develop augmented reality systems for military use and employees aren't a fan. A group of workers has put together a petition protesting the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has come out defending the move, which brings in right under $500 million.
The petition put together by Microsoft Workers 4 Good opens as such:
"We are a global coalition of Microsoft workers, and we refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression. 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. We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used."
It also features these specific demands:
- Cancel the IVAS contract
- Cease developing any and all weapons technologies, and draft a public-facing acceptable 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
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Wired reports that Satya Nadella addressed the petition from Microsoft employees and other concerned parties by saying "We made a principled decision that we're not going to withhold technology from institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy."
The IVAS contract itself, which was awarded to Microsoft in November 2018, nets Microsoft over $479 million plus options. It seeks out "innovative solutions to accelerate lethal defensive and offensive capabilities utilizing innovative components, including commercial items, for the selection of an IVAS (which was formerly called Heads-Up Display or HUD 3.0)." The initial plan is to produce 2,550 IVAS prototypes.
Microsoft Preisdent Brad Smith shared a statement similarly in support of such contracts when Microsoft bid for a Department of Defense cloud computing contract called JEDI, so it isn't likely that the company budges on this new deal. Stay tuned to Shacknews for additional gaming and tech updates.