Augmented Warfare

More than fifty employees at Microsoft signed a letter this week calling for the company to cancel a military contract that would supply U.S. Army soldiers with HoloLens augmented reality headsets.

The letter titled "HoloLens for Good, Not War" states that the headset "will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated 'video game,' further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed."

In November, Microsoft signed a $479 million contract with the Army with plans to supply them with more than 100,000 specialized HoloLens headsets as part of a broader plan to develop an "Integrated Visual Augmentation System" (IVAS).

Their demands are for Microsoft to cancel the IVAS contract, "cease developing any and all weapons technologies," and appoint an "external ethics review board."

"HoloLens for Good, Not War"

The military is planning to use Microsoft’s augmented reality goggles to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to a government description of the program as quoted by Bloomberg in November.

It's not the first time workers of a major tech corporation have demanded their employers to cut ties with the military. Last year, thousands of Google employees circulated a letter demanding CEO Sundar Pichai to pull out of a Pentagon project called Project Maven, a surveillance drone initiative for the U.S. military.

This week's letter is testament to the tech sector taking a stronger stance on their employers doing business with the military. "As employees and shareholders we do not want to become war profiteers," reads the letter.

READ MORE: Microsoft workers protest use of HoloLens headsets for war [Associated Press]

More on the Microsoft contract: U.S. Soldiers to Wear Microsoft AR Goggles During Combat Missions

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