Microsoft President Brad Smith defends company's work with U.S

Marion JacobsOct 29, 2018

The company laid out its reasoning Friday in a blog post by Brad Smith, Microsoft's president.

The statement came two weeks after Google dropped out of the bidding for the huge Pentagon cloud computing contract that could be worth up to $10 billion.

"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 said.

"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".

Yes, Microsoft will keep working with and for the Department of Defense, despite requests from employees to distance itself from work with the Pentagon.

Microsoft later confirmed to CRN it had submitted its proposal to the government for JEDI. "The contract has not been awarded but it's an example of the kind of work we are committed to doing", he wrote.

They referenced Department of Defense Chief Management Officer John H. Gibson II telling attendees of an industry event: "We need to be very clear".

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"We understand that some of our employees may have different views", Smith writes. "This 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 JEDI program, in accordance with that document, should be subject to a review from a special ethics committee within Microsoft, they said.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delivers a keynote address in May. "As is always the case, if our employees want to work on a different project or team - for whatever reason - we want them to know we support talent mobility".

"While we are working to support the USA government with our cloud in many areas, we are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles and second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications", a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.

Americans, and especially those who serve in the military, should know "that we at Microsoft have their backs".

"All of us who live in this country depend on its strong defense", Smith wrote.

"U.S. tech companies who say, 'We will not support the U.S. Military, we will not work on any technology that helps our military, ' but yet goes into China and facilitates the Chinese government surveilling their people is pretty shocking", he said.

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