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Microsoft signed a $22B U.S. Army contract with AR IVAS HoloLens



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image: Microsoft

At the end of 2018, Microsoft went on strike $480 million in transactions Together with the U.S. Army, it provides an augmented reality headset prototype based on its HoloLens system.Well, it seems that soldiers are fans, because signing the contract to get Many of them. For example, in the past 10 years, more than 120,000 head-mounted devices were valued at 21.88 billion U.S. dollars.

The Army wrote in its report: “This award transitions IVAS to production and rapid deployment to provide a new generation of night vision and situational awareness to the Close Combat Force (CCF). Press release.The contract itself, according to CNBC, There is a base period of 5 years, you can choose to extend it for another 5 years Many years later.

The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headset is based on HoloLens 2 (Microsoft’s $3,500 mixed reality headset) and utilizes the company’s Azure cloud computing service. Although HoloLens 2 is incredibly advanced, it is currently more popular in enterprises than consumers. because, Well, most people will not use a $3,500 headset without a killer app. However, the military is another matter.each CNBCThe IVAS prototype allows soldiers to see maps and compasses, and has thermal imaging capabilities for night vision. It can also help soldiers aim weapons. The Army’s press release reiterated these use cases, stating that it also allows soldiers to “combat, rehearse, and train” on one platform.Microsoft’s Press release The implication is that this technology can make soldiers (and even civilians) safer by “enabling information sharing and decision-making” in various situations.

It sounds good on paper, but the news is also disturbing. For example, the technical effectiveness of targeted bombing or surgical attacks can minimize civilian casualties. Far from proven. Today, most news about AR headsets tends to focus on how they can improve daily life. Tech giants see AR as a tool that can help you cross the street, understand your surroundings, and improve work efficiency.However, this transaction with Microsoft firmly reminds us that this technology not only has It originated from war, But this is also under active development.Although the IVAS headset itself may not be directly classified as a weapon of war, it can Yes A tool that can make soldiers more “effective”.

The relationship between technological development and war is not new.A large number of technologies we use today-including the most famous the Internet-It was originally developed for military purposes. However, this does not mean that the civilian engineers who developed the technology are happy with the penetration of this line.

When Microsoft won the 2018 IVAS contract for the first time, a Microsoft employee wrote Open the envelope CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith asked the company to terminate the contract. They called for stricter ethical guidelines on how to use this emerging technology, and stated that they “refuse to create technology for war and oppression.” These feelings do not seem to have changed.

A Microsoft employee said: “We would rather Microsoft stand up for transgender people around the world on Transgender Visibility Day today than make weapons of war,” Tweet Respond to this news.

Smith wrote: “For two centuries, technology has been changing the nature required to defend a country.” Twitter. “We have been long-term supporters of @DeptofDefense and @USArmy in their efforts to modernize the U.S. military through advanced technology.”

However, as long as the military contract remains profitable, this may not disappear anytime soon. Especially not applicable to Microsoft employees.After all, Microsoft also Won a $10 billion cloud computing contract The Pentagon in 2019.

At the moment, this is the question of how ethical Big Tech is to engage in military or police contracts without clearly disclosing its purpose to its employees. Microsoft employees are not the only ones who oppose this type of contract.For example, a Google employee asked the company to terminate its relationship with the Pentagon Controversial Maven project UAV AI program and its Dragonfly Project Review the results of Chinese search engines.Amazon workers also demanded that the company Retract the facial recognition contract Palantir, a data mining company with military ties, withdrew from its cloud servers.




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