Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Authors @ Google presents Nassim Taleb, discussing the concepts from his latest book, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder.
Here, Taleb offers his view that the opposite of fragility is not "robustness", as commonly supposed, but anti-fragility. Whereas things that are fragile need to be handled with care and kept in a state of tranquility, things that are anti-fragile benefit from volatility.
According to Taleb, fragility and anti-fragility can be measured, whereas risk cannot (in spite of what Ivy League academics with risk models may think). You'll hear why anti-fragile systems have benefits that outweigh their risks, and why some fragile systems are vulnerable to "prediction error" and hidden, intolerable risks which vastly outweigh any associated benefits.
Using the example of Seneca, a wealthy Stoic philosopher who often imagined himself to be poor, Taleb suggests we should always try to have more upside than downside from random events - "and then you're anti-fragile".
So let's hear it for an anti-fragile world of "many highway exits and options". It sounds a lot better than a world centered around top-down planning by the supposed elites.
1. Nassim Taleb on Antifragility at Princeton.
2. Econtalk interview with Nassim Taleb on Antifragility.