As tech companies such as Google wrestle with employee objections to working with the U.S. military, Microsoft Corp.’s president is throwing his company’s support behind the Pentagon.
Microsoft is “going to provide the U.S. military with access to the best technology… all the technology we create. Full stop,” Brad Smith said Saturday during a panel at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
Smith acknowledged that “there is some angst” in some workforces, including Microsoft’s, about tech companies’ involvement in military contracts.
In June, after thousands of employees voiced objections to a contract that allowed the military to use Google’s artificial intelligence tools to analyze drone footage, Google decided not to renew the contract.
Microsoft Corp. has won a $480 million contract to supply prototypes for augmented reality systems to the Army for use on combat missions and in training, the Army said. The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets, is intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to a government description of the program.
Microsoft officials announced Tuesday that the company had achieved the required security levels to host secret U.S. military and intelligence data on its could computer network, Azure, and claimed they were on track to to host “top secret” information soon. The developments put the computer giant in closer competition with cloud rival Amazon to handle the government’s most delicate and important information and perhaps to vie for the Pentagon’s coveted nearly $10 billion cloud contract known as JEDI.
We live in such ridiculous times. The ongoing silly narrative over supposed "political bias" by tech companies is causing all sorts of stupid follow on effects. For instance, Microsoft has now asked the Federal Election Commission for an advisory committee to state that offering its enhanced security features -- known as AccountGuard -- to any political campaign won't be deemed an unfair campaign contribution.
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