By: Yassmine ElSayed
CAIRO, Feb. 23 (SEE) – Dozens of Microsoft employees have signed a letter protesting the company’s $480 million contract to supply the U.S. Army with augmented reality headsets intended for use on the battlefield, CNBC reported.
Under the terms of the deal, the headsets, which place holographic images into the wearer’s field of vision, would be adapted to “increase lethality” by “enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to a government description of the project. Microsoft was awarded the contract in November.
“We are a global coalition of Microsoft workers, and we refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression,” the employees stated in the letter, which was published on an internal message board and circulated via email to employees at the company yesterday.
“We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US Military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built. We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” the letter said.
More than 50 Microsoft employees signed their names to the letter.
The letter, addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, notes that the company has previously licensed technology to the military – including HoloLens for use in training – but has never before “crossed the line into weapons development”.
It adds that the program, officially called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, turns “warfare into a simulated ‘video game,’ further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.