Is Microsoft Trying To Drive A Wedge Between Amazon And The Pentagon?

Microsoft committed itself to supporting the US military in any way that it can.

President Brad Smith didn’t leave his company’s intentions in doubt when he pledged at the Reagan National Defense Forum that Microsoft is “going to provide the US military with access to the best technology … all the technology we create. Full stop.” This was a bold statement to make considering that some ‘techies’, both within his own company and especially others such as Google’s with generally younger workforces, are concerned about Big Tech’s partnership with the Pentagon. Smith is evidently trying to dispel any worries that his company’s promises could be jeopardized by rebellious employees in what can be seen as a marketing pitch meant to position Microsoft as a serious competitor to Google and Amazon when it comes to providing technical services for the US military, bearing in mind that both of those two have had workers speak out against some of their employers’ contracts with the Armed Forces.

The larger issue that should be discussed isn’t just the potential ethical implications of indirectly assisting drone strikes and other controversial actions by the American military but the role that Big Tech companies play in the military-industrial complex in the first place. Although the US government’s “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency”, or DARPA, is famous for its innovative inventions like the Internet, it operates in a completely different professional environment devoid of the market competition that the Big Tech monopolies face with one another, which makes it ill-suited to managing the large-scale services such as military-wide cloud computing that its private counterparts are much more capable of providing. Partnering with the military is advantageous for these companies not only for reasons of prestige and profit, but speculatively speaking, possibly even for the unofficial perks that might come with it.

From left: Apple CEO Tim Cook, President Donald Trump, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, participate in an American Technology Council roundtable at the White House on June 19, 2017

It’s difficult to imagine the government cracking down on these firms by breaking up their monopolies in advance of the public interest if they’re so dependent on their current internal organizational model for carrying out military-related tasks, not wanting to jeopardize the many ongoing missions that the Pentagon is constantly carrying out all across the world in order to score some populist political points at home. It’s true that an American leader might one day emerge who wouldn’t shy away from doing this so long as it’s carried out in an orderly and responsible fashion, but given the cutthroat competition between the main Big Tech companies, it would probably be easier to replace one with the other (and possibly for a cheaper price, at that!) and then crack down on the previous provider after the transition has been completed. Speculatively, this could bode really badly for Amazon but be extremely beneficial for Microsoft.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Dec 07, 2018:

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.
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