Network Technology in the Face of Despotism: from the Prisoner's Dilemma to the Jailer's Dilemma

This study examines the ability of network technology to challenge despotism regimes. It thus applies two theoretical approaches. The first is the "Prisoner's dilemma" and the "despot/jailer's dilemma" and the second is the "case study", which studies a number of cases of "network technology", whether used by protest groups or by authoritarian regimes, to determine the extent (and direction) of their impact in practice. The study concludes that network technology — through challenging the logic of the "prisoner's dilemma" and reversing it to become the "jailer's dilemma" — can, theoretically, pose an element of weakness for despotism regimes. However, in reality, network technology can be used by these regimes with the same effectiveness, to respond to mass protests supported by technology. This indicates that network technology can be seen as a neutralizing factor, the impact of which should be studied relative to the impact of other factors.

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Abstract

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This study examines the ability of network technology to challenge despotism regimes. It thus applies two theoretical approaches. The first is the "Prisoner's dilemma" and the "despot/jailer's dilemma" and the second is the "case study", which studies a number of cases of "network technology", whether used by protest groups or by authoritarian regimes, to determine the extent (and direction) of their impact in practice. The study concludes that network technology — through challenging the logic of the "prisoner's dilemma" and reversing it to become the "jailer's dilemma" — can, theoretically, pose an element of weakness for despotism regimes. However, in reality, network technology can be used by these regimes with the same effectiveness, to respond to mass protests supported by technology. This indicates that network technology can be seen as a neutralizing factor, the impact of which should be studied relative to the impact of other factors.

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