“This country has always relied on having access to the best technology, certainly the best technology that American companies make,” he said during an exclusive interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. “We want this country, and we especially those that serve this country, to know we at Microsoft have their back.”
This comes on the heels of the U.S. Army’s recent decision to award Microsoft with a $480 million contract to provide augmented reality headsets to soldiers in combat.
While taking part in a panel discussion on Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Smith admitted that “there is some angst” expressed by employees at “some” workforces, including Microsoft, over the tech giant's involvement in government contracts.
In June, Google dropped a Pentagon artificial intelligence contract after thousands of Google employees raised objections.
However, while Smith didn’t specify whether the outcry prompted Microsoft to uproot some of its policies, he acknowledged that Microsoft would take collective action to address “questions and concerns” of workers.
“As we see artificial intelligence entering the world of the militaries around the world, as people are asking questions about autonomous weapons, we’ll be engaged, but we’ll be engaged as a civic participant,” he said.
“We’ll use our voice, we’ll work with people, [and] 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.”
This isn’t the first time a big Microsoft exec has shed light on the company's position over its engagement with the U.S. military.
In July, during an interview with Bartiromo, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed the apprehensions over the company’s contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, making it clear that they “would not participate in any projects that would go against fundamental human rights” but pointed out how it’s important for tech companies to pitch in.