By Theodore Mattheiss

Opinion Editor

A letter addressed to Microso ’s CEO, Satya Nadella, and signed by more than 100 employees protests the company’s recent partnership with the United States military. e letter is a response to the $480 million contract the company has signed with the U.S. Army, which will put the HoloLens to work on the battlefield.

In combat, the HoloLens will be used to provide soldiers with an augmented reality view of the world around them, improving their ability to identify and respond to potential hostiles. A government description of the project explicitly states that the goal is “enhancing the ability to detect, decide, and engage before the enemy,” and to “increase lethality” in these combat situations.

“A lot of people feel uncomfortable about being involved in war-related business or producing weapons that hurt other people,” an anonymous Microsoft employee told NBC News. “To me, it’s a basic violation of Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and organization on the planet to do more.”

I understand the desire Microsoft workers have to avoid being associated in any way with the violence of warfare, and if I were in their position my name would be on that letter, but this is a complicated situation.

To what degree should personal ethics influence the workings of a business? In an ideal world, the actions of a corporation would always line up with the values of its employees, but that’s not the world we live in, so how should things be balanced?

The letter was signed by more than 100 people, but Microsoft has about 135,000 employees worldwide, all of whom have a vested interest in the success of the company. So should the concerns of a slim minority cancel this opportunity to make nearly half a billion dollars?

Maybe. One could say that these workers ought to nd a new job with a different company if they don’t like how their work is utilized by their current employer, but that is much easier said than done. Why should somebody have to uproot their life just because their employer won’t listen to their concerns, and who would actually take a step that drastic?

The employees, realistically, are physi- cally and morally bound to what Microsoft decides to do. The only way for Microsoft to show proper respect for the nature of this relationship is to cancel the contract.

In the event that this letter doesn’t change anything, which is likely, I think the employees at Microsoft will just have to find comfort in the fact that their work is helping to keep American soldiers safe from those who would harm them. Warfare wouldn’t stop if this contract disappeared, and the HoloLens might be the difference that allows a soldier to come home to their family.

The Elm

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