A couple of days ago, over 100 Microsoft employees signed a letter addressed to CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith, complaining about the company's $480 million contract with the U.S. military to develop an Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), which also includes HoloLens. The document primarily revolved around an ethical debate regarding Microsoft offering technology that could potentially be used to increase to hurt and kill people.
Now, Satya Nadella has responded to this petition spearheaded by his employees.
In a statement to CNN, Nadella had the following to say about the concerns of his employees:
We made a principled decision that we're not going to withhold technology from institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy. We were very transparent about that decision and we'll continue to have that dialogue [with employees]. It's not about taking arbitrary action by a single company, it's not about 50 people or 100 people or even 100,000 people in a company. It's really about being a responsible corporate citizen in a democracy.
Interestingly, even back in October 2018, Microsoft President Brad Smith penned a detailed blog post, explaining the company's relationship with the U.S. military, and emphatically stated that "when it comes to the U.S. military, as a company, Microsoft will be engaged."
With the unveiling of HoloLens 2 mere days ago, it remains to be seen if Microsoft employees who signed the petition will be satisfied with Nadella's response, but it certainly opens the door for continued debates on the matter. For now though, it certainly seems that Microsoft won't be withdrawing its contract with the U.S. military.