Microsoft, Amazon pledge to work with Pentagon following anonymous online rebukes

Credit Microsoft

Microsoft plans to continue to provide its technology to the USA military, despite worries that advances in the field of artificial intelligence could empower weapons to act autonomously and kill people.

Microsoft president Brad Smith agrees. In the letter, Smith wrote that he and chief executive Satya Nadella addressed the issue in a regular Q&A session with employees in which they promised to "support talent mobility" when specific employees don't want to work on a given project.

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. In the most positive way possible, we are going to work to help shape it'.

Smith said Microsoft is maintaining its bid for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract aimed at modernizing the military's computing systems.

'We believe that the debate about the role of the tech sector and the military in this country has sometimes missed two fundamental points.

In October, Microsoft expanded its cloud service, Azure, in order to better assist their government clients, contributing to the company's efforts to secure the government contract.

"Like those who took action at Google, Salesforce, and Amazon, we ask all employees of tech companies to ask how your work will be used, where it will be applied, and act according to your principles", the letter said.

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Smith's letter followed an October 12 "Open Letter to Microsoft" purportedly signed by an unspecified number of Microsoft employees.

The Microsoft post specifically mentioned comments by Department of Defense Chief Management Officer John H. Gibson II that the JEDI program 'is truly about increasing the lethality of our department'.

The principles bar use of Google's artificial intelligence (AI) software in weapons as well as services that violate global norms for surveillance and human rights.

The military is looking into using more artificial intelligence for its defense, as the Chinese government has set goals in surpassing the US military.

Likewise, Amazon is seen as the forerunner for winning a cloud computing contract with the Pentagon.

"As we have discussed these issues with governments, we've appreciated that no military in the world wants to wake up to discover that machines have started a war", he wrote.

In October, Google announced the company would cease efforts to win the multi-billion dollar contract, stating that parts of the "JEDI" project would not align with their "principles" after more than 3,000 employees protested the idea of Google's technology being utilized for warfare.

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