Microsoft under fire by employees over HoloLens deal with U.S. military

Jack Wilkinson

HoloLens in the new Microsoft Technology Centre in Sydney Australia

Microsoft has found itself in a puddle of hot water with some of its employees. Back in November 2018, Microsoft announced that it had signed a new $479m contract with the U.S. military to supply augmented reality technology. This technology was supposedly to be supplied for training purposes.

But some Microsoft employees aren’t happy with the deal, claiming that they should have a say in what their work is used for and that they “did not sign up to develop weapons.”

Signed by 50 employees, the employees have addressed a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith (via NBC).

The employees claim that Microsoft has never before crossed the line when working with the U.S. military, but that this new contract, Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), does cross the line and brings Microsoft into weapons development. In the letter, it is urged that Microsoft take 3 steps:

  1. Cancel the IVAS contract;
  2. Cease developing any and all weapons technologies, and draft a public-facing acceptable use policy
    clarifying this commitment;
  3. Appoint an independent, external ethics review board with the power to enforce and publicly validate
    compliance with its acceptable use policy.

Microsoft is yet to respond to the employees’ letter. You can read the letter in full here.