Microsoft President and legal chief Brad Smith has committed to supplying the Pentagon with technology. He said Microsoft’s promise to always provide the US military with technology is still in place, despite recent controversies surrounding an AI program.
When the US armed forces go to war, the government is backed by the best technology available, both in terms of hardware and software. That technology must come from somewhere and traditionally tech giants have supplied the government with software solutions. The situation is changing around a growing controversy, but Microsoft’s Brad Smith says the company will always backup the government
Smith spoke to Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network this week and said, “we see artificial intelligence entering the world of militaries around the world.”
As mentioned, tech giants supplying software to armed forces is nothing new. However, companies are coming under increasing pressure for doing so. This year, Google employees protested against the company’s participation in Project Maven.
AI Head Fei-Fei Li left the company following the controversy. Project Maven is a contract to provide AI-powered solutions to the Pentagon, although Google denied the software would be for offensive purposes.
Google employees also rose against Project JEDI, another Pentagon contract to supply cloud services to the US military. Worth $10 billion to the winning bidder, Microsoft is believed to be one of the companies seeking to win the contract. Despite Redmond employees protesting such a bid, Brad Smith says the company will continue to work with the government.
“I think that’s right. This country has always relied on having access to the best technology, certainly the best technology that American companies make. We want this country and we especially want the people who serve this country to know that certainly we at Microsoft have their back. We will provide our best technology to the United States military and we have also said that we recognize the questions and at times concerns or issues that people are asking about the future.
As we see artificial intelligence entering the world of the militaries around the world, as people are asking about questions like autonomous weapons, we’ll be engaged but we’ll be engaged as a civic participant. We’ll use our voice. We’ll work with people. We’ll work with the military to address these issues in a way that I think will show the public that we live in a country where the U.S. military has always honored the importance of a strong code of ethics.”