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Satya Nadella refuses to withdraw Microsoft’s HoloLens contract with US military

Under the contract, Microsoft has to provide more than 100,000 headsets that could be used for combat and training in the military.

tech Updated: Feb 26, 2019 12:49 IST
Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Barcelona
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., gestures as he speaks during a keynote session on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., gestures as he speaks during a keynote session on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.(Bloomberg)
         

Even after facing backlash from company employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has no plans to scrap the controversial contract of supplying augmented reality (AR)-based HoloLens headset to the US military.

Under the contract, Microsoft has to provide more than 100,000 headsets that could be used for combat and training in the military.

“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,” Nadella told CNN on Monday at the MWC 2019 in Barcelona.

Last week in a letter to the company President Brad Smith, Nadella and other top executives, workers urged the firm to junk the $479 million contract to supply technology for the military’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System, the media had reported.

“As employees and shareholders we do not want to become war profiteers. To that end, we believe that Microsoft must stop in its activities to empower the US Army’s ability to cause harm and violence,” the letter read.

An attendee wears a Microsoft Corp. HoloLens 2 headset as he uses the Bentley Systems Inc. Synchro XR augmented reality (AR) app, at the Microsoft Corp. stand on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona
An attendee wears a Microsoft Corp. HoloLens 2 headset as he uses the Bentley Systems Inc. Synchro XR augmented reality (AR) app, at the Microsoft Corp. stand on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona ( Bloomberg )

ALSO READ: HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset launched

The employees said they are alarmed that their company is working to provide weapons technology to the US military, “helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built”.

The workers’ coalition asked Nadella and Smith to “cease developing any and all weapons technologies, and draft a public-facing acceptable use policy clarifying this commitment.”

According to media reports, the US Army describes the project as a way to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”.

ALSO READ: Microsoft committed to working with US military: Brad Smith

 

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 12:48 IST