2018 has wrapped up with a list of news about tech giants failing to live up to their promises of bringing social good. In this recap, the author shares some of the newsworthy incidents where social media and new transport systems had failed.

Facebook was embroiled in the saga of data privacy leakage and had marred its own reputation as a ‘good’ enterprise. Ride-hailing companies who claimed that their services would reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission through shared on-demand rides seem to have encouraged more private vehicles on the roads instead. Uber’s self-driving cars were also in the news for having caused a fatal crash.

However, the shared responsibility also lies with public leaders who were struggling to collaborate or regulate the private actors in their foray of providing public good, but also with profits as their bottomline.

It is a cautionary warning to all of us that tech companies may not inherently prioritise the public’s interest, and incorporating smart technologies into city systems require more due diligence.   

Read the full article on City Lab: 2018 Was the Year of the Smart City Skeptic


While tech solutions hold promises of a better future as they disrupt old ways of doing things, they have the same potential to cause harm if not carefully regulated or maintained.

It is undeniable that the benefits we reap from harvesting the gains of technological advancements include more efficient processes, less wastage of resources, creation of jobs, and increasing access of resources and information. With digital devices that are becoming smarter, more insights can be drawn from data to provide better services and products. People can do more social good enabled by technology, in ways previously unimaginable.

However, there is always a flip side of the coin. Concerns about ethical boundaries, personal data privacy, and dangers of technology have plagued the news. Both consumers and regulators have to be aware of the potential pitfalls and mitigate these risks as well.

Questions for further personal evaluation:

  1. What are some social good that technology has enabled?
  2. Do you think the good outweighs the bad of technology? How so?

Useful vocabulary:

  1. ‘perils’: serious and immediate danger
  2. ‘burgeoning’: flourishing, beginning to grow
  3. ‘behemoths’: something enormous

Picture credits:https://unsplash.com/photos/XS7q-baZrmE