Sci-tech

Microsoft, Amazon stand by military work, despite employee backlash

Microsoft, Amazon stand by military work, despite employee backlash”

Microsoft executives launched a spirited defense of their work with the USA military on Friday in a blog post authored by company president Brad Smith, who pledged to work with Pentagon as it embarks on a multi-billion-dollar effort to build advanced artificial intelligence capabilities into its operations.

In response to those employees troubled by Microsoft's pursuit of the Department of Defense's JEDI cloud computing contract, Microsoft President Brad Smith argued Friday the company has a duty to supply those who serve in the military with the best technology-then engage in the conversation over its ethical use in war.

Microsoft strongly defended its work with the USA military Friday, addressing a topic that has caused an employee backlash throughout the tech industry this year.

Nevertheless, Smith says Microsoft has chose to extend its more than 40-year relationship with the U.S. Department of Defense because the company believes its home country should have a strong military with the best technology.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made similar remarks last week at a conference in San Francisco. We also respect the fact that some employees work in or may be citizens of other countries, and they may not want to work on certain projects.

"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war", read a letter addressed to Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive officer, and signed by company employees, according to The New York Times.

"We want the people of this country and especially the people who serve this country to know that we at Microsoft have their back", he wrote.

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

Nearly two weeks ago, anonymous Microsoft employees posted on Medium, a social journalism platform, an article that concluded: "Microsoft, don't bid on JEDI". "They will have access to the best technology that we create".

In July, the Pentagon opened bidding for a $10 billion dollar contract called "JEDI", short for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.

Throughout the piece, Smith continued to walk a fine line between patriotic duty to support the USA military, while carefully conceding that there will be different opinions in a large and diverse company population (some of whom aren't US citizens).

'We need to put JEDI in perspective, ' it said. The company, he said, is already working with experts to help it do so.

'While we are working to support the United States 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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