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That “technological edge,” includes numerous pricey contracts with Silicon Valley for shiny new toys. Just last year, the U.S. Army entered into a major contract with Microsoft, reportedly worth up to $21.9 billion, to bring its HoloLens augmented reality headsets to soldiers. The army believes the soldiers will strap on the headsets to “fight, rehearse, and train” using a single integrated system and use AR and VR to, “enable a life-like mixed reality training environment.” Actual deployment of those goggles has already faced delays.

The military’s ties with Big Tech aren’t just limited to Microsoft either. A report published last year by by advocates and researchers at Little Sis, Action Center for Race and the Economy (ACRE), and MPower Change, estimates the Pentagon and The Department of Homeland Security spent over $44 billion on services from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter since 2004.

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Tech focused R&D spending in the military may swell even further in the next decade as the Pentagon ramps up its already brewing technological arms race with China, particularly around artificial intelligence. Speaking at an event organized by the United Nations last year, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the U.S. would dish out nearly $1.5 billion on AI research and development in the next five years to compete with China, which he claims is developing the tech for, “a range of missions, from surveillance to cyberattacks to autonomous weapons.”

Part of that effort to ramp up the military’s AI presence traces back to former Google CEO and President Obama tech whisperer Eric Schmidt. As head of the National Security Commission on AI, Schmidt and other defense minded thinkers published a report pushing back against international calls for bans on AI-assisted weapons systems and forcefully advocated for increased cooperation between private industry and military. Not long after Schmidt co-authored The Age of AI, with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger where he warned of a coming AI Cold War.

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President Biden, who faced criticism from some conservatives and interventionists over the U.S’ response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine doesn’t seem interested in cutting back on military spending anytime soon. Earlier this month, the president released his annual budget proposal which sought to provide the military with a record $813 billion in funding over a year, a 4% increase from the previous. Even if Biden’s unlikely to secure that exact amount in funding, the proposal provides a glimpse into the President’s priorities.Those figures drew the ire or progressive lawmakers like Washington state congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who slammed the proposal for prioritizing military spending above needed social services.

“At a time when we are already spending more on the military than the next 11 countries combined, no we do not need a massive increase in the defense budget, ‘Sanders said in a statement.

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