The term "zero-sum" comes from [[game theory]] and is used to describe a situation where the gains or losses of one participant are exactly balanced by the gains or losses of other participants. In simpler terms, it means that in a given scenario, one person's gain is another person's loss, and the total sum of gains and losses always equals zero.
In a zero-sum game or situation, there is no possibility for all parties to benefit simultaneously. Instead, the success of one party comes at the expense of others. Examples of zero-sum situations can include competitions, limited resources, or negotiations where one side's win is seen as a loss for the other side.
It's important to note that not all situations are zero-sum. Many scenarios, particularly in [economics](https://doctorparadox.net/category/economics/) and social interactions, can be described as positive-sum or non-zero-sum, where cooperation and mutual benefit can lead to a situation where all parties gain more than they lose. For example, trade between countries can often lead to a positive-sum outcome, as both countries can benefit from specializing in what they do best and exchanging goods or services.