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Microsoft’s top lawyer on US military: We ‘have their back’



Brad Smith Microsoft
Microsoft’s chief lawyer
Brad Smith

Drew Angerer/Getty

  • Microsoft President and chief lawyer Brad Smith, promised the
    company will always supply the US military with “our best
    technology” in an interview on Fox Business.
  • He also noted that artificial intelligence is “entering the
    world of militaries around the world.”
  • These statements fulfilled several goals: It made it clear
    that Microsoft intends to pursue the enormous defense market,
    that it sees working with the military as a patriotic duty — and
    it was a dig at Google, a rival to Microsoft.

Microsoft President and chief lawyer Brad Smit doubled down on
his promise to always supply the US military with “our best
technology” as “we see artificial intelligence entering the world
of militaries around the world.”

Smith made his comments in an interview with Maria
on Fox
Business Network on Wednesday.

Generally speaking, tech companies have never questioned whether
to supply the US military with their best technology — at least
until earlier this year, when Google employees rose in protest
against Project Maven, a pilot program with the Pentagon to
supply AI-powered image recognition technology for drones. 

Googlers didn’t want the AI technology they are developing to be
used for weapons. After an employee uprising, Google essentially
agreed to their wishes, all but taking itself out of the
enormously lucrative defense market.

Read more:
Uber insiders describe infighting and questionable decisions
before its self-driving car killed a pedestrian

Microsoft and Amazon have been quick to raise their hands and
say, “we’ll take your business.” The largest US tech makers, like
Microsoft, already earn big bucks selling tech to the US federal
government and military agencies. How big? Just one contract to
supply the CIA with Microsoft cloud services signed earlier this
year will generate hundreds of millions,
according to Bloomberg

The Pentagon is also on the verge of awarding a $10 billion
contract to one cloud provider —
probably Amazon
— unless fellow competitors like Microsoft
and Oracle can convince it to divvy the deal up among multiple
clouds. Not surprisingly, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has
publicly taken a similar stance to Microsoft in support of the US
Google withdrew from consideration for this same deal
, saying
that it could conflict with its values.

All of which is to say, with his statements, Smith gets to pursue
an enormous area of business, declare Microsoft’s patriotism and
slide a not-so-subtle dig at his competitor Google, all at the
same time.

Here’s the full text of what Smith told Bartiromo when she asked
if technology companies should help the United States (emphasis

“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.”

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.

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