MICROSOFT STAFFERS have published an open letter to company executives, urging them not to bid on the US Department of Defense’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project due to its potential to cause harm.
Redmond has been working to gain security approvals and certifications to host sensitive data through its Azure Government Secret unit, in an attempt to compete with AWS, which makes almost $3bn annually from its government work.
“When we decided to work at Microsoft, we were doing so in the hopes of ’empowering every person on the planet to achieve more,’ not with the intent of ending lives and enhancing lethality’, the letter states.
“For those who say that another company will simply pick up JEDI where Microsoft leaves it, we would ask workers at that company to do the same. A race to the bottom is not an ethical position. 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.”
It continues: “We need to put JEDI in perspective. This is a secretive $10bn project with the ambition of building ‘a more lethal’ military force overseen by the Trump Administration. The Google workers who protested these collaborations and forced the company to take action saw this. We do too.”
The letter is referring to Google’s withdrawal from bidding on JEDI last week, due to similar concerns about how the government would use its technology – specifically its work on AI.
“We couldn’t be assured that [the JEDI deal] would align with our AI Principles and…we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications”, said Google.
The open letter follows a similar tone, asking: “What are Microsoft’s AI Principles, especially regarding the violent application of powerful A.I. technology? How will workers, who build and maintain these services in the first place, know whether our work is being used to aid profiling, surveillance, or killing?…
“With JEDI, Microsoft executives are on track to betray these principles in exchange for short-term profits.” µ
Source : Inquirer