Microsoft will sell artificial intelligence to USA military

Yolanda Curtis
October 29, 2018

In the letter, Smith wrote that he and chief executive Satya Nadella addressed the issue in a regular Q&A session with employees in which they promised to "support talent mobility" when specific employees don't want to work on a given project.

"We appreciate that technology is creating new ethical and policy issues that the country needs to address in a thoughtful and wise manner", Smith wrote. Employees who want to switch teams can apply for other open jobs within the company, he wrote.

"The contract is massive in scope and shrouded in secrecy, which makes it almost impossible to know what we as workers would be building", the post reads.

The answer was clear: "when it comes to the USA military, as a company, Microsoft will be engaged", Smith wrote in a blog post.

Smith's comment come not long after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told an audience at the Wired25 conference in San Francisco that "if big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble". He added that this also applies to artificial intelligence.

Google, who has since dropped out the running for a cloud computing contract with the Pentagon due to a conflict of corporate values, have been criticised by Oracle founder Larry Ellison.

Microsoft should adhere to its own recent publication, The Future Computed, that laid out ethical guidelines for building artificial intelligence, the letter stated.

'We need to put JEDI in perspective, ' it said.

'The Google workers who protested these collaborations and forced the company to take action saw this.

In October, Google announced the company would cease efforts to win the multi-billion dollar contract, stating that parts of the "JEDI" project would not align with their "principles" after more than 3,000 employees protested the idea of Google's technology being utilized for warfare.

Amazon was widely viewed among Pentagon officials and technology vendors as the front-runner for the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI.

The two companies are responding to a broader wave of discontent that has complicated the efforts of Silicon Valley tech companies to work with the military.

'While we are working to support the U.S. government with our cloud in many areas, we are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles and second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications, ' Google said in a statement.

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