Microsoft CEO: Selling HoloLens to Military Is a ‘Principled Decision’ – ExtremeTech

Microsoft CEO: Selling HoloLens to Military Is a ‘Principled Decision’ – ExtremeTech

Microsoft
This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.Last week, Microsoft employees sent a letter of protest to their own company, claiming that Microsoft had engaged in war profiteering when it signed a deal with the US military to provide HoloLens technology to soldiers in the field. While close cooperation between the US military and Microsoft is nothing new, HoloLens will be directly incorporated and used in combat scenarios.
When the US military announced the deal, it stated the device was intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.” The Army calls this system IVAS, for Integrated Visual Augmentation System.This appears to be the first time that Microsoft has moved from developing products that are used by the military to developing products that can be directly used to kill. In an interview with CNN Business, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella dismissed the issue, 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. We were very transparent about that decision and we’ll continue to have that dialogue.The 250+ employees who ....


The letter states: Although a review process exists for ethics in AI, AETHER, it is opaque to Microsoft workers and clearly not robust enough to prevent weapons development, as the IVAS contract demonstrates. Without such a policy, Microsoft fails to inform its engineers on the intent of the software they are building… Brad Smith’s suggestion that employees concerned about working on unethical projects ‘would be allowed to move to other work within the company’ ignores the problem that workers are not properly informed of the use of their work.
There are many engineers who contributed to HoloLens before this contract 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… These engineers have now lost their ability to make decisions about what they work on, instead finding themselves implicated as war profiteers.“AETHER, ” in this context, refers to the group of experts Microsoft created to evaluate ethics in AI and to ensure it was “used responsibly.”A Matter of EthicsI’ll acknowledge that I’m sympathetic to the ethical argument the Microsoft programmers and engineers are making here. Many of ....

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