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Friday, August 27, 2010

Nassim Taleb on fragility, black swans at EconTalk

Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan, joins Russ Roberts at EconTalk for a discussion on Black Swans, Fragility, and Mistakes.

You'll find an audio podcast of the interview, along with a transcript and some related articles & links, at the link above.

Be sure to check out this very worthwhile and wide-ranging discussion on the nature of debt, robustness in Mother Nature versus lack of robustness in certain man-made systems, and the harm that is levied on society by its overreliance on forecasting and vulnerability to the large mistakes made by "expert" forecasters who are not held accountable for their hubris and error-prone guidance.

Here's a choice quote from Taleb on the difference between small, relatively inconsequential mistakes and large-scale mistakes which impact the greater society:

"I want to live in a society in which human error doesn't penalize the multitude. This is pretty much my mission for the rest of my life: to try to figure out how to build a society in which people can make mistakes. Mistakes are inconsequential; that's my tinkering idea, because you make a lot of small mistakes and so society should be able to make a lot of small mistakes. Mistakes are like an option on discovery.".

Enjoy the interview and I hope it stimulates some thinking and action heading into the weekend.

Related articles and posts:

1. More podcasts with Nassim Taleb - EconTalk.

2. Russia Forum 2010: Nassim Taleb, Marc Faber, Hugh Hendry - Finance Trends.