Saying it straight. Microsoft president and chief lawyer Brad Smith has promised that it will not shy away from providing the US military with its best technology.
Furthermore, the company says that artificial intelligence is entering the world of militaries around the world, and Smith sees it as an enormous area of business. This comes as big technology companies like Google are facing internal pressure over Pentagon contracts.
However, firms like Microsoft and Amazon are offering the military complete support.
This is what Smith said in a recent interview on Fox Business, when asked if technology companies should help the United States:
“I think that’s right. This country has always relied on having access to the best technology, certainly the best technology that American companies make. We want this country and we especially want the people who serve this country to know that certainly we at Microsoft have their back. We will provide our best technology to the United States military and we have also said that we recognize the questions and at times concerns or issues that people are asking about the future.”
As for artificial intelligence, he explained how Microsoft aims to follow a strong code of ethics:
“As we see artificial intelligence entering the world of the militaries around the world, as people are asking about questions like autonomous weapons, we’ll be engaged but we’ll be engaged as a civic participant. We’ll use our voice. We’ll work with people. We’ll work with the military to address these issues in a way that I think will show the public that we live in a country where the U.S. military has always honored the importance of a strong code of ethics.”
Tech firms have never questioned whether to supply the US military with their best technology until earlier this year when thousands of Google employees rose in protest against Project Maven, a pilot program with the Pentagon that supplies AI powered image recognition technology for drones.
Microsoft and Amazon also posses these capabilities, and have raised their arms at a time when Pentagon is on the verge of awarding a $10 billion contract to one cloud provider.
Redmond also penned a $480 million deal with the US military to provide it with its HoloLens augmented reality headsets for use by soldiers in training and combat.
All in all, Microsoft is making some big military bets — and at the same time acknowledging that it needs to take collective action to address the questions and concerns of workers that may not be comfortable with deals like these.