“While Microsoft has previously licensed tech to the US Military, it has never crossed the line into weapons development,” the letter states. “With this contract, it does. The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It 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 addition to canceling the HoloLens contracts, the letter calls on Microsoft to cease working on “any and all weapons technologies”
The employee protest is the latest manifestation of a growing labor movement in the US technology industry. Employees at companies including Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Salesforce are increasingly speaking out both about their own working conditions and about the uses to which their employees put their work product. In June 2018, more than 100 Microsoft employees signed a petition protesting their employer’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And in October, anonymous employees published an open letter on Medium calling on the company not to bid on a massive contract to build cloud services for the Defense Department.