Can Government 2.0 Solve Prisoner's Dilemma?

To get an introduction to Prisoner's dilemma and game theory, see this and this.

Governments have always thrived on information arbitrage - and unsurprisingly poor citizens have suffered. The reason why the US and many other countries invested billions of dollars to develop nuclear bombs was this - they didn't have a solution to Prisoner's dilemma. In fact, I wouldn't be too wrong if I said almost all wars in the history were fought because we never had a solution to Prisoner's Dilemma. Facing an unknown adversary; governments, kings and generals did exactly what game theory suggests in such scenarios - Defect.

In simple words - If you can't be sure about what the other guy can do to you, you are better off amassing all kinds of weapons....just in case". And since the other guy is as smart as you are, he's probably going to do the same...leading to a vicious circle of arms race and all that; the end result - everyone's a loser.

However, things are going to change now. Increasing usage of social media in government (gov2.0) will radically alter the way government agencies function. It may take a few years but it's inevitable; there's no going back now. The memorandum of transparency and open government signed by the US president last year is a strong evidence of their intentions and it's a prelude to what's going to happen across the globe. Almost all developed countries have already started working on using social media in government agencies. When gov2.0 is fully implemented, citizens would be able to track how their tax money is being spent by government. They'd have real time access to all public sector information. They'd have a role to play in policy creations. The three pillars of gov2.0 are transparency, participation and collaboration; when gov2.0 is fully functional, information arbitrage will cease to exist in government dictionaries.

Cynics will claim that it's a Utopian vision and web2.0, gov2.0, democracy 2.0 or what have you...are all fads...but they are NOT... and there are signs all over the place... if you only have the time and patience to observe. For instance, Prof. BJ Fogg, who heads the Persuassive Technology Lab at Standford University, talks about world peace using Social Media. Besides running a hugely popular course called "Psychology of Facebook" he also runs an interesting Peace innovation program at Stanford University.  Even though the idea of world peace is a lofty one, it's actually based on solid theory and I firmly believe that it's possible. Government 2.0 is perhaps one strong step in this direction.