Microsoft employees petition against Hololens contract with US Army

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by Chary, Feb 24, 2019.


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    Those working on Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, the Hololens, are petitioning against the tech giant, as they’ve become upsetted by the potential uses for the device. Last year, Microsoft and the United States Army signed a contract together, so that the technology within the Hololens could be used to create an Integrated Visual Augmentation System, which would “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”. The contract is worth about $479 million dollars, with Microsoft’s president Brad Smith defending it, stating, “We believe in the strong defense of the United States and we want the people who defend it to have access to the nation's best technology, including from Microsoft."

    A group of employees at Microsoft did not share the same views. Called “Microsoft Workers 4 Good”, they addressed an open letter to the Chief Executive and President of the company on February 22nd, demanding that Microsoft dissolve the contract, enact new ethical guidelines, and prevent the Hololens project from being used to create weapons technology. Some of the workers expressed discontent knowing that they helped develop the technology used in the headset, only for the contract with the Army to be signed after they had worked on Hololens, without their knowledge. Some alleged that they believed their work would instead be going towards the health field, or for space exploration. A petition formed by the same group received over 100 signatures in the first day.

    Microsoft has not given an official response at this time, only saying that they “appreciate feedback from employees”.

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    Discussion (96 replies)
  1. grey72

    grey72 GBAtemp Regular

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    Why does this sound like the plot of a science fiction novel?
     
  2. azoreseuropa

    azoreseuropa GBAtemp Guru

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    Who cares.
     
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  3. leon315

    leon315 POWERLIFTER

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    In few words A shoter with wall hack in REAL LIFE?
    Am I right?
     
    Last edited by leon315, Feb 24, 2019
  4. XDel

    XDel Author of Alien Breed: Projekt Odamex

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    Another Huxleyian Dystopia
    Isn't that what Call of Duty is for... to condition you to kill little brown people?
     
  5. Dr.Hacknik

    Dr.Hacknik Advanced Maniac | Dev | Trans

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    inside your fridge
    Wow, I almost cared.
    So what. If it helps improve our defense then sure.
     
  6. sarkwalvein

    sarkwalvein There's hope for a Xenosaga port.

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    I have a deja vu, I think I read the same headline a year ago or so, but it said "Google" instead of "Microsoft".

    Anyway I don't think the petition from the "4 Good Microsoft workers" will have any consequence.
     
  7. DKB

    DKB ...!

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    People just want something to complain about. Slow days.
     
  8. eyeliner

    eyeliner Has an itch needing to be scratched.

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    How many projects from tech giants are made for the military forces? Many. This is just one more.
     
  9. grossaffe

    grossaffe GBAtemp Psycho!

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    I had a recruiter come to me about working on drones for the DoD. I told them I was not interested.
     
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  10. Subtle Demise

    Subtle Demise h

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    The role of the US military hasn't been defense since about 1812. People act as if they can do no wrong and all "service" members are to be worshipped. The Microsoft employees who are protesting must feel the same way.
     
  11. MarkDarkness

    MarkDarkness Deliverator

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    If they don't do it, someone else will.
     
  12. osaka35

    osaka35 Instructional Designer

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    can't say i blame them, I'd be in the same boat. Make new tech meant to help the world, and it winds up going to the "double-tap" aholes. yeah, they're completely in the right to push for change. other companies may fill the gap, but sometimes you have to do what's right by you.

    I'd get all those people to threaten to quit, otherwise microsoft will go with the money rather than the ethics. it is a business, after all, their position is amoral by default.

    Not a fan of the "blank check" mentality for the military, either, but that's off-topic a bit.
     
    Last edited by osaka35, Feb 24, 2019
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  13. sarkwalvein

    sarkwalvein There's hope for a Xenosaga port.

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    I think nobody considers that the US military does no wrong, well... it does some good also perhaps by mistake. But I think a characteristic of people these days is conformism, avoid any real fight with the establishment and disguise it creating all this SJW parades that are not really involving and just pretending.

    What was it again? Ah... yeah, there's this "nobody has principles, don't fight the establishment, stop pretending" kind of attitude, but at the same time society also tells you you are expected to "pretend you care and involve yourself", the world is so fake it is sad.
     
  14. k3rizz3k

    k3rizz3k GBAtemp Fan

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    If microsoft signed a contract with the military.. They won't back out even if the people threaten to quit. Too much to be lost.
     
  15. Captain_N

    Captain_N GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Well now M$ knows who to fire.....
     
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  16. Ratatattat

    Ratatattat GBAtemp Regular

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    So if I understand you correctly you prefer Russia or China or North Korea have this technology?
    Because they will in time. Oh I understand the moral implications but I also understand that you have to stay ahead of the game or someone else's morality will take precedence.
     
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  17. DarkCoffe64

    DarkCoffe64 Bo

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    Eh, if not for military purpose, they'll just gonna convert it to use for CoD maybe.
    Same result in the end masked as a vidyagam.
    just being stupid here
     
  18. sarkwalvein

    sarkwalvein There's hope for a Xenosaga port.

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    Fire?

    A good employer knows to have made a binding contract that results in monetary penalties for the employee if they quit the company before the contract ends.

    A good employer knows the best punishment is make sure of giving the employee a suitable job so that he can do their part of the contract: sorting old irrelevant files from dawn till dusk in a basement twenty floors below ground.
     
  19. osaka35

    osaka35 Instructional Designer

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    That's basically the military's argument. Let us do it first because everyone is gonna do it, so might as well be us rather than them. Tech is going to happen, sure, but you have to bake-in some moral limitations or else it hardly matters who has it. USA military isn't good with ethics.

    But for fear of straying off-course, we're focusing on the moral dilemma of individual employees, and how microsoft seems willing to give away their in-good-faith work to the military with no ethical process or restrictions.
     
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