Don't fight zero-sum games, lower opportunity costs
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Don't fight zero-sum games, lower opportunity costs

Don't fight zero-sum games, lower opportunity costs

I have often heard and read that zero sum games are bad, that we should find outcomes where everyone wins. I used to agree, but I don't any more.

Examples of zero sum competitions might be wars, politics and business. Only one country can win the war, only one (or a few) political parties can win the election, or one company can win any particular customer for a particular product.

However, in practice, not all zero sum games are equally bad.

When the zero-sum game is to compete for a product to deliver, it creates higher value for a client. Sure it would be great if the same quality product could be created without competition, and cooperation is important, but competition happens to be an effective vale creating mechanism. Similarly for war and politics: at least the winning party brings their supposedly superior values in the world. Even in actual games like the olympics, you can argue that the players gain by training.

A great technical deep dive into the topic:

“Zero Sum” is a misnomer. - LessWrong
This could have been a relatively short note about why “zero sum” is a misnomer,but I decided to elaborate some consequences. This post benefited fromdiscussion with Sam Eisenstat. “ZERO SUM” IS A MISNOMER.The term intuitively suggests that an interaction is transferring resources fromone perso…

Instead of saying certain competitions are useless, figure out the opportunity costs: what else could the parties have been doing?