US high tech firm Microsoft Corporation Friday defended its plan to continue to work with the USA military despite objections from its employees who opposed the use of Microsoft technology for warfare. "But we can't expect these new developments to be addressed wisely if the people in the tech sector who know the most about technology withdraw from the conversation".
"We understand that some of our employees may have different views", Smith writes.
The statement came two weeks after Google dropped out of the bidding for the huge Pentagon cloud computing contract that could be worth up to $10 billion. Microsoft isn't the only tech giant to forge ahead with military contracts, regardless of the controversies they evoke.
"While we are working to support the USA government with our cloud in many areas, we are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles and second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications", a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.
The retorts by the executives followed a pair of anonymously authored posts on the website Medium over the past month - both of which the site said had been verified by its editorial staff - in which self-described employees of Amazon and Microsoft raised concerns over the tech companies' relationship with the Defense Department.
He said that Microsoft would respect the position of employees who did not want to work on a military project and would offer the option of shifting jobs where possible.
The Microsoft employees asked their colleagues from other cloud providers to consider taking a similar stance at their respective companies. "The people who serve in our military work for an institution with a vital role and critical history". Of course, no institution is flawless or has an unblemished track record, and this has been true of the U.S. military.
Yes, Microsoft will keep working with and for the Department of Defense, despite requests from employees to distance itself from work with the Pentagon.
However, it was unclear how many employees were behind the letter. "Regardless of our views on the military, no one should be profiting from "increasing the lethality" of the military", the person wrote, referencing top defense officials' rhetoric on the Pentagon's broader cloud efforts.
Microsoft should adhere to its own recent publication, The Future Computed, that laid out ethical guidelines for building artificial intelligence, the letter stated.