Microsoft has been smashed with allegations of wrongdoing and irresponsible corporate practice after it was revealed that a number of employees have expressed concern – bordering on rage – over the relationship between the business and the United States Army.
That relationship is based on the development of the so-called HoloLens, which is an augmented reality platform, designed to give soldiers a more realistic battle simulation experience. Military spokespeople have said that the purpose of an augmented reality program is to improve leadership in the field and reduce casualties by, amongst other things, giving army medics a better appreciation of the realities of working on the battlefield. However, the fact that this is being seen as weapons development by many makes sense, until you look at the process and the other businesses that competed for the project – which is pretty much a who’s who of hardware developers.
Additionally, the HoloLens was not developed for military applications, at least not specifically (since the creation of realistic military games, this has been a potential option). In fact, it was a travel agent sales tool, a gaming unit and pretty much everything except a way to train soldiers. But, as with most technology, cross-pollination was inevitable and other industries – including and not limited to the military – showed interest.
Perhaps it’s most important to note that working with the military of a democratically elected government is something that numerous ethical and well-respected businesses have and will continue to do.
The question is – does the HoloLens constitute a form of weapons system and are there direct battlefield applications? If the device was taken onto the battlefield itself, everything could change.