Microsoft plans to continue to provide its technology to the US military, despite worries that advances in the field of artificial intelligence could empower weapons to act autonomously and kill people.
The company laid out its reasoning Friday in a blog post by Brad Smith, Microsoft's president. He wrote that he and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed employee concerns about Microsoft's military work in a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, and conceded some workers are still uneasy about it.
Nevertheless, Smith says Microsoft will extend its more than 40-year relationship with the US Department of Defense because the company believes its home country should have a strong military with the best technology.
Recently Microsoft bid on theDOD's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud project – or "JEDI" – which will re-engineer the Defense Department's end-to-end IT infrastructure, from the Pentagon to field-level support for soldiers.
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The contract has not been awarded, but Smith used it as an example of "the kind of work "we are committed to doing.
The Microsoft exec told staff, "The people who serve in our military work for an institution with a vital role and critical history. Of course, no institution is perfect or has an unblemished track record, and this has been true of the US military.
"But one thing is clear. Millions of Americans have served and fought in important and just wars, including helping to free African-Americans who were enslaved until the Civil War and liberate nations that had been subjected to tyranny across Western Europe in World War II.
"Today the citizens in our military risk their lives not only as the country's first line of defense, but often as the nation's first line of assistance around the world in hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other disasters."
Smith said he understand that some of our employees may have different views. "We don't ask or expect everyone who works at Microsoft to support every position the company takes," he said.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made similar remarks last week at a conference in San Francisco.
- Associated Press