Microsoft to keep working with the military, despite concerns of AI advancements

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In a blog post published on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith defended the company's decision to continue supplying digital technology to the military.

Microsoft strongly defended its work with the USA military Friday, addressing a topic that has caused an employee backlash throughout the tech industry this year.

'Our work as a company in this space is based on three straightforward convictions, ' he wrote.

"We believe in the strong defense of the United States and we want the people who defend it to have access to the nation's best technology, including from Microsoft", Smith said.

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"We appreciate that technology is creating new ethical and policy issues that the country needs to address in a thoughtful and wise manner", Smith wrote. We want to use our knowledge and voice as a corporate citizen to address these in a responsible way through the country's civic and democratic processes.

Smith noted that not all Microsoft employees share the company's views, and that's fine.

He said that Microsoft would respect the position of employees who did not want to work on a military project and would offer the option of shifting jobs where possible.

'We believe that the debate about the role of the tech sector and the military in this country has sometimes missed two fundamental points. "We want the people of this country and especially the people who serve this country to know that we at Microsoft have their backs".

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"We'll engage not only actively but proactively across the USA government to advocate for policies and laws that will ensure that AI and other new technologies are used responsibly and ethically". "We are not going to withdraw from the future".

"The contract is massive in scope and shrouded in secrecy, which makes it almost impossible to know what we as workers would be building", the post reads.

Nearly two weeks ago, anonymous Microsoft employees posted on Medium, a social journalism platform, an article that concluded: "Microsoft, don't bid on JEDI".

They also accused Microsoft executives of betraying the company's artificial intelligence principles-ones that state A.I. should be "fair, reliable and safe, private and secure, inclusive, transparent, and accountable"-in pursuit of 'short-term profits'". Just a few weeks ago search giant Google said it would disallow its advanced algorithms to be used in weapons systems, and announced that it would decline to bid on a $10 billion opportunity to build the Pentagon's department-wide cloud computing infrastructure.

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The blog post comes as employees raise questions about Microsoft's defense work and as the company bids for a big Pentagon cloud-computing contract. Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle submitted bids by the October 12 deadline, company spokespeople confirmed this week, and the Defense Department is expected to award a contract next year. In the post, which Medium said was verified by its editorial staff, the purported employees argued against bidding on the JEDI contract because the company might not have control over how its algorithms are used to fight wars.