Can technology solve social problems?

Technology empowers people, opens up multiple opportunities, but will it get rid of the biases, prejudices and injustice inherent in a society?

Uber Zendesk screen shot

Screen shot for search on “sexually assaulted”

Uber, the taxi riding company said “only” 5 claims of rape and less than 170 claims of sexual assault were received by the company between December 2012 and August 2015 in US. This is in response to the screen shots of search queries related to the period between December 2012 and August 2015 in Uber’s Zendesk customer support platform, released by buzzfeed.com.

In one screenshot, a search query for “sexual assault” returns 6,160 Uber customer support tickets. A search for “rape” returns 5,827 individual tickets. Uber officials provide various explanations for these large number of search results, but buzzfeed.com also gives appropriate rebuttals.

Uber Zendesk screen shot

Screen shot for search on “rape”

After Uber learned of BuzzFeed’s investigation, the company began contacting customer service representatives in its system who had searched the Zendesk database for the terms rape and sexual assault, apparently in a hunt for the leaker.

The point to be debated is : with technology a service, related app and an eco system to offer cheap taxi rides can be built and rolled out. But can technology solve problems faced by women, minorities and oppressed sections in the society?

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