[ View the story "Embracing 'antifragility'" on Storify] Embracing 'antifragility' Nassim Taleb argues institutions must adapt to disorder to thrive.
The Stream· Thu, Jan 03 2013 10:16:08
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a derivatives-trader-turned-scholar, argues that systems which seem "stable" are often not able to withstand unpredictable and catastrophic events. In a
Wall Street Journal
op-ed, Taleb writes, "emphasizing antifragility means that our private and public sectors should be able to thrive and improve in the face of disorder".
Below, he explains antifragility in more detail:
[FULL VERSION] Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains Antifragilepenguinbooks
Taleb gained fame for his best-selling book,
The Black Swan
the financial crisis of 2008. He defines "black swans" as surprise events (like the 9/11 attacks and the rise of the internet) that popular risk models cannot predict.
Instead of continually trying to predict black swan events, Taleb argues for creating systems that can gain from uncertainty. One aspect in achieving this is to decentralise power so that when unpredictable problems do occur, the damage is limited and can serve as an turning point for improvement.
In a lecture for the RSA, Taleb further explains ways to think about unpredictability:
Nassim Nicholas Taleb - The Predictability of Unpredictabilitythersaorg
Despite some criticisms
regarding his theories, Taleb now speaks with the world's decision makers such as British Prime Minister
on how to make economic and political systems more antifragile. The following interview features Cameron and Taleb discussing the implications of "black swan thinking" on politics.
David Cameron in conversation with Nassim Talebthersaorg
Taleb also has a prominent presence on social media. His
feed interacts with fans and critics alike, while his
account encourages debate on a range of topics.
One popular post from his Facebook page asks why politicians don't recognise the human tendency towards corruption.
I wonder why all these political/economic thinkers can't make simple logical step, from a) "politicians are [incompetent/corrupt/self-serving, etc.]" b) they seem to have been that way across history and geography, to the obvious "we need a mechanism to gain from the [incompetence/corruption/...] of politicians". Why do these small logical steps elude intellectuals?
Below, Taleb shares his insights on the antifragility of nature.
<div>REPETITIVE SOUL INJURY. If you feel more comfortable looking at trees outside the window (in spite of their "mess") than at the well-organized smooth and regular structures inside the room, then you are psychologically convex to some types of variations (straight from Jensen's Inequality), the fractal ones --hence antifragile. And we can generalize to the difference between "organized" textbook-like lectures and rich conversation and fractal writing. Anything that bores you ...belongs to a class of linear, information-poor, reduced information ... Did it ever hit you that natural settings are never ugly? Paradoxically we seem to rest better under some type of natural "mess". My eye gets more solace looking at the "messy" Christmas tree rather than the smooth wall next to it.<br> We can generalize to life; just as we get repetitive stress injuries doing well-organized movements, our soul gets repetitive stress injury when deprived of fractal depth.<br> <br> PS- Consider book that have survived, from the "messy" bible to Montaigne's essays: depth has these non-businessbook-like attributes. Which is why when I was told about Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan "your books are fun to read BUT disorganized" I understood fun to read BECAUSE disorganized (or fractally organized).See More</a></div>