Microsoft CEO defends work on half-billion-dollar HoloLens military contract

Microsoft won’t stop its work on a nearly half-billion-dollar government contract designed to bring HoloLens augmented reality tech to the U.S. Army.

“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,” Satya Nadella told CNN in an interview. “We were very transparent about that decision and we’ll continue to have that dialogue [with employees].”

The admission from the company’s top executive, implying that Microsoft has no plans to bend to a letter now signed by 200+ employees urging leadership to cancel work on a $479 million government contract, is hardly a surprise. Microsoft has fallen under internal scrutiny previously for its work pursuing and carrying out government contract work. This latest effort brings an emerging technology to the forefront of modern warfare with a contract that aims to use the technology to increase the lethality of United States forces.

The letter sent Friday sought to push the company’s leadership to stop work on the $479 million military contract. The group claims now that more than 200 Microsoft employees have signed the letter.

“We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” the letter reads.

The publishing of the letter came just days before the company held an event highlighting the technological advances seen in their augmented reality technologies.