Microsoft Workers Protest $480M Army Contract with Tech "Designed to Help People Kill"

Megalith

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A group of Microsoft employees have penned an open letter urging CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith to cancel their $480M contract with the army, which would fulfill the military’s desire for an “Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS)” with thousands of HoloLens augmented reality devices. Workers claim they didn’t sign for weapons development and warn the technology turns combat into a “simulated video game.”

Microsoft intends to apply its HoloLens augmented reality technology to this purpose. While the company has previously licensed tech to the U.S. Military, it has never crossed the line into weapons development. With this contract, it does. The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated “video game,” further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.
 

UnrealRG

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I suspect that tech companies may soon have a new form for new hires to sign. Something along the lines of... "As a condition of employment, you agree to do every lawful thing directed by management. Company reserves the right to use intellectual property for any lawful purpose it chooses, reserves the right to develop any lawful technology it chooses, and contract with and sell to any lawful entity it chooses. Failure to comply with management directives is grounds for immediate dismissal. Contact with any media company not explicitly approved by management is grounds for immediate dismissal.".
 

[Spectre]

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I suspect that tech companies may soon have a new form for new hires to sign. Something along the lines of... "As a condition of employment, you agree to do every lawful thing directed by management. Company reserves the right to use intellectual property for any lawful purpose it chooses, reserves the right to develop any lawful technology it chooses, and contract with and sell to any lawful entity it chooses. Failure to comply with management directives is grounds for immediate dismissal. Contact with any media company not explicitly approved by management is grounds for immediate dismissal.".

Other than the last line, they most likely do already have such clauses. People just ignore them and then find out later they should have read what they were signing.
 

Squall_Rinoa89

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LOL Lets loose out on 480M... Excuse me Sir.. do you HAVE 480M in your bank account to compensate if we pull out? If not.. Sit and shut up.
 

joobjoob

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Should have called it:

"Aggressive carbon footprint reduction"

Less footprints, less carbon.
 

Makaveli@BETA

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LOL Lets loose out on 480M... Excuse me Sir.. do you HAVE 480M in your bank account to compensate if we pull out? If not.. Sit and shut up.

lol this.

I doubt all those people bring in 480Million to Microsoft.

MS will be hiring soon get your resumes ready.
 

velusip

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It's also used to keep people safe.

Regardless, Google and Microsoft refusing military contracts opens up huge opportunities for smaller companies to pick up the slack. Those invested in Microsoft might take issue with this story. :)
 

jrobdog

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The reason you can ask that question... And not know the answer indicates the above mentions are doing their job. You should than a service member!

My sister is an Air force servicewoman with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, she would often question the purpose of these deployments as well.

Perhaps you're right and it is as simple as viewing other countries with juxtaposed interests to ours as enemies and call it a day.
 

mesyn191

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So quit. Hold the courage of your convictions and sacrifice for them. Outrage is hollow without action.
As others have noted they did already try to take action (the petition) but its absurd to expect them all to insta-quit and try to find jobs in this job market and given the cost of living and general lack of savings most have.

More so if any of them have families too.

There is also no reason to believe that them quitting would have any effect on the company's actions either. Its entirely possible the company would just replace them and continue doing with the program anyways. To really have a decent change to force a change, which is indeed taking action, there would probably have to be a large and powerful union willing to organize a company-wide strike.

But to many such things are seen as Verboten for some reason.

The reason you can ask that question...
Nah this over simplistic Oh-rah! BS.

Just look at how the wars in Afganistan, Syria, Iraq, or Vietnam have been handled.

Its only reasonable to be cynical when you look at how the US has done militarily for decades.
 

SeymourGore

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Not sure if I'd trust any liberal-leaning tech group for my military death machines. Main concern would be that the engineers would program Kill Switches into the software rendering it useless.
 

AceGoober

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I don't see the problem with keeping the contract. Microsoft is already killing us with buggy Windows 10 updates.

The Microsoft employees have submitted their contract opposition letter to the CEO and President. If the CEO decides to continue with the contract then the employees can request a transfer to another part of the company not involved with the contract or find another job.
 

mesyn191

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Not sure if I'd trust any liberal-leaning tech group for my military death machines. Main concern would be that the engineers would program Kill Switches into the software rendering it useless.
*rolls eyes*

Jesus this conspiracy minded stuff just keeps getting more and more absurd over time.

Tell us all exactly how these Super Secret Liberal Agents (who are also supposed to be stupid and incompetent going by most of the rhetoric most Conservative conspiracy mongers like Q push) supposed to be activating these kill switches in remote theaters? They're gonna connect to each bomb remotely via wifi and blow up everything in flight LOL?

I can't kill that Dave
Hal got sabotaged by the military not the scientist who built it remember?
 

[Spectre]

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With not just a little bit of irony, I'll remind everyone to stay on target with regards to the rules about politics.
 

Croak

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*rolls eyes*

Jesus this conspiracy minded stuff just keeps getting more and more absurd over time.

Tell us all exactly how these Super Secret Liberal Agents (who are also supposed to be stupid and incompetent going by most of the rhetoric most Conservative conspiracy mongers like Q push) supposed to be activating these kill switches in remote theaters? They're gonna connect to each bomb remotely via wifi and blow up everything in flight LOL?


Hal got sabotaged by the military not the scientist who built it remember?

There's always the "Reality Winner" types to consider. Or the Mannings. They exist, they're proven to exist, and they will continue to exist. Those type of high functioning idiots would post source code and think they were doing something noble.
 

Flexion

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The army should come down hard like this on more women who spend too much time on their cellphones. Amirite brothers? XD
 

Dead Parrot

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Be interesting to know the average age of the folks signing the petition. 9/11 was about 18 years ago and most folks under the age of 30 probably don't really remember the last time the US really felt threatened. Pretty easy to be against helping the Military when you have never really felt threatened by a foreign power.
 

steakman1971

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I like my MSFT stock - I don't want them to cancel the contract.
Petitions? WTH. Your job is to do what you are told to do. I do think it's fine to raise a flag sometimes (especially if it's wrong/immoral/etc) - however, at some point, if you don't like it - quit. Don't keep whining about it.
Do these people think no other Microsoft software is used by the military? Perhaps not directly involved in combat, but guaranteed used in planning. SQL Server to store vital information. Sorry, tech is used by the military and will continue to be used.
 

ChoGGi

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Do these people think no other Microsoft software is used by the military? Perhaps not directly involved in combat, but guaranteed used in planning. SQL Server to store vital information. Sorry, tech is used by the military and will continue to be used.
I do seem to recall an article a few years back; about US warships (or subs) needing to upgrade from XP (or Vista).
 

dgz

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The real reason is 480M isn't enough. Cheap morals are cheap for a reason
 

nimer

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50 idiots signed a petition of 135,000 employees. Not blaming you guys but dont see why or how this is news worthy in the MSM
 

gdonovan

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As others have noted they did already try to take action (the petition) but its absurd to expect them all to insta-quit and try to find jobs in this job market and given the cost of living and general lack of savings most have.

More so if any of them have families too.

Then they should keep their pie holes shut and do the job they were hired to do. They don't get a vote on what contracts Microsoft picks up. I have done a number of shitty jobs to ensure my family had food, a roof over their head and health insurance. I have zero sympathy for these people who I would imagine work in very nice digs and are well compensated.
 

trparky

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The reason you can ask that question... And not know the answer indicates the above mentioned are doing their job. You should thank a service member!
Yep, very much so.
Very black and white take on the situation. Who are the 'bad guys"?
Do I have to remind you that a bunch of terrorists from the Middle East slammed planes into the two World Trade Center towers and The Pentagon back in 2001 on September 11th? If this is news to you, you really do need to go do some research. Those "bad guys" you speak of want nothing but to kill us all, all in the name of... whatever the hell his name is.

I for one support the men and women who make this world safer for people like you to ask that question because if they didn't, you'd probably not be here to even ask that question.
 
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WAterTriAd

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It's also used to keep people safe.

Regardless, Google and Microsoft refusing military contracts opens up huge opportunities for smaller companies to pick up the slack. Those invested in Microsoft might take issue with this story. :)

Microsoft never refused the contract, they already responded saying essentially "thanks for the feedback, we're going ahead with it." There was backlash originally and Brad Smith squashed that with a similar statement then as well.

Other than the last line, they most likely do already have such clauses. People just ignore them and then find out later they should have read what they were signing.

This exists in the current Microsoft contracts AFAIK. If you do anything that gets publicity, and that publicity leads back to your employment at Microsoft, it can be grounds for immediate termination.
More interesting though, is that Microsoft actually has a positive disclosure policy. (I work for Microsoft) "Positive" meaning that people posting on forums like this that are Microsoft employees need to disclose they are Microsoft employees if they are commenting on anything where hiding that knowledge could cause the company embarrassment if it was found out later. At least, that was in the employee guidelines last time I checked.
 

jrobdog

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Yep, very much so.

Do I have to remind you that a bunch of terrorists from the Middle East slammed planes into the two World Trade Center towers and The Pentagon back in 2001 on September 11th? If this is news to you, you really do need to go do some research. Those "bad guys" you speak of want nothing but to kill us all, all in the name of... whatever the hell his name is.

I for one support the men and women who make this world safer for people like you to ask that question because if they didn't, you'd probably not be here to even ask that question.

How many have we killed in return? Are we the bad guys to those impacted by our predator missiles?
 
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