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    FILE- In this May 11, 2017, file photo, members of a design team at Cirque du Soleil demonstrate use of Microsoft's HoloLens device in helping to virtually design a set at the Microsoft Build 2017 developers conference in Seattle. Federal contract records show the U.S. Army has awarded Microsoft a $480 million contract to supply its HoloLens headsets to soldiers. The head-mounted displays use augmented reality, which means viewers can see virtual imagery superimposed over the real-world scenery in front of them. Microsoft says the technology will provide troops with better information to make decisions

    Twitterstorm as Microsoft Workers Condemn US Military Deal 'to Help People Kill'

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    The public has come up with a variety of reactions to Microsoft employees questioning the visual augmentation contract from last November, whereby their top-notch engineering products would be delivered to the battlefield. While many signed a petition in solidarity, others stressed that the deal is common practice and serves the nation’s interests.

    Microsoft workers are calling on the company's management to drop its almost $480 million contract with the US military to build versions of its HoloLens augmented reality headsets for war purposes. 

    The staffers stressed that the company’s deal “has crossed the line” into arms development for the first time, adding the use of HoloLens, stipulated by the contract terms, “is designed to help people kill”, employees wrote in a Friday open letter directed at Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith. In it, they further urged the company to cancel the IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) contract, which was clinched in November, calling for stricter ethical principles in the corporation.

    "The contract's stated objective is to 'rapidly develop, test, and manufacture a single platform that soldiers can use to fight, rehearse, and train that provides increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries'", the letter specified regarding the contract, which, Bloomberg reported, could eventually lead the military to buy more than 100,000 headsets from the company. 

    "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", the workers wrote. "We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used", they rounded off.

    The workers even launched a petition to be signed by those like-minded from a Twitter account suggestively named “Microsoft Worker 4 Good”.

    The news and the petition itself appear to have struck a chord with Twitterians, with many unequivocally siding with the “brave” staffers:

    Others have voiced perhaps a more sobering approach, saying anything cutting-edge technology arrives at is able to be exploited for evil purposes:

    Others expressed an even more rational approach, saying that if the US military does without certain innovative things, the “enemies” are sure to stay vigilant:

    Some resorted to posting pacifist pictures, trying to divert the topic to something more positive:

    The move marks the latest protest by staffers of technology companies vehemently opposing certain uses of the products they manufacture. 

    In June 2018, backlash from employees prompted Google to backtrack and not renew a contract with the Defence Department after workers resigned in protest against using artificial intelligence for drone footage analysis. Later that year, Google suspended its plan to launch a censored search service in China under the project known as Gragonfly, after hundreds of employees openly called it out.


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