Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world.Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls «antifragile» is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better. Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call «efficient» not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: The antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.

Praise for *Antifragile«Taleb takes on everything from the mistakes of modern architecture to the dangers of meddlesome doctors and how overrated formal education is. … An ambitious and thought-provoking read . . . highly entertaining.»—The Economist*

From the Hardcover edition.

ReviewPraise for *Antifragile«Taleb takes on everything from the mistakes of modern architecture to the dangers of meddlesome doctors and how overrated formal education is. … An ambitious and thought-provoking read . . . highly entertaining.»—The Economist*

Praise for Nicholas Nassim Taleb "[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne."—The Wall Street Journal«The most prophetic voice of all . . . [Taleb is] a genuinely significant philosopher . . . someone who is able to change the way we view the structure of the world through the strength, originality and veracity of his ideas alone.»—GQ «Changed my view of how the world works.»—Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate “Altered modern thinking.”—The Times (London)

About the AuthorNassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent nearly two decades as a businessman and quantitative trader before becoming a full-time philosophical essayist and academic researcher in 2006. Although he spends most of his time in the intense seclusion of his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. His main subject matter is "decision making under opacity"—that is, a map and a protocol on how we should live in a world we don’t understand.Taleb’s books have been published in thirty-three languages.
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937 printed pages


    洪一萍shared an impression2 years ago

    “Fragility implies more to lose than to gain, equals more downside than upside, equals unfavorable asymmetry.”

    Hydra demonstrates Antifragility. When one head is cut off, two grow back.

    •The Barbell & the Bimodal Strategy
    The barbell demonstrates an “antifragile balance,” the idea of two extremes kept separate, with avoidance in the middle.

    This represents playing it very safe in some areas (staying robust to negative black swans), and taking a lot of small risks in other areas (open to positive black swans), to take advantage of antifragility. While avoiding being “in the middle.”

    If you put 90% of your net worth in cash or T bills, and you use the other 10% for extremely aggressive and risky investments, you can never lose more than 10% of your net worth, but you’re exposed to massive upside.

    Or, you can take a very safe day job while you work on your literature. You balance the extreme randomness and riskiness of a writing career with a safe job.

    Or, you do a serial barbell, where you have pure action then pure reflection (Seneca, Montaigne).

    More examples: “Do crazy things (break furniture once in a while), like the Greeks during the later stages of a drinking symposium, and stay “rational” in larger decisions. Never middlebrow stuff. Talk to either undergraduate students, cab drivers, and gardeners or the highest caliber scholars; never to middling-but-career-conscious academics.

    If you dislike someone, leave him alone or eliminate him; don’t attack him verbally.”

    •Some Rules for Optionality
    -Look for optionality and rank things according to their optionality
    -Look for things with open ended, not closed ended, payoffs
    -Do not invest in business plans but in people, people who could change careers six or seven times
    -Make sure you are barbelled, whatever that means in your business

    However, if you’re a midlevel executive employee at some bank, if you punch out an annoying drunk in a bar you will likely get fired, get an arrest record, and be unhirable. You’re extremely fragile.

    And then again at the lower end of the spectrum, say as a taxi driver, you have more freedom again because you are not so dependent on your reputation.

    He also provides a heuristic: People who don’t seem to care how they dress or look are robust or antifragile. People who have to wear suits and ties and worry about a bad reputation are fragile.

    •The Turkey Problem
    A bigger theme in The Black Swan, but “the turkey problem” is how you can imagine a turkey raised and fed from birth, becoming more sure every day that it will continue to be well fed and taken care of, based on its past evidence, right up until Thanksgiving.

    •Buridan’s Donkey
    A donkey equally hungry and thirsty stuck between a bale of hay and water will die of starvation and thirst, unable to make a decision between the two. However, a random nudge in one direction will solve the problem for him. Randomness can help with decision making and becoming unstuck, but when we try to reduce it, we lose that beneficial stressor.

    Taleb argues, is hastened by a lack of stress. We are living longer but people are more sick. All of our comfort has been detrimental to our healthspans. We thought aging causes bone degradation, but it seems that bone degradation causes aging.

    This can also be applied to competition. The best horses lose when they compete with slower ones, and win against stronger rivals. Absence of challenge can degrade the best of us.

    Taleb also points out how many people are being put on antidepressants, and how mood swings are a natural part of the human condition. If someone is truly suicidal, sure, but the ability to wrestle with our dark side is part of life and great inspiration for creatives.

    •Via Negativa (by removal)
    -Decision Making
    If you have more than one reason to do something, don’t do it. By invoking more than one reason to do something, you are trying to convince yourself to do it. Obvious decisions (robust to errors) require no more than one good reason.

    Иванов Алексейshared an impression8 months ago
    👍Worth reading
    💡Learnt A Lot

    Очень крутой концепт Антихрупкости, который можно применять абсолютно ко всему (политика, экономика, образование). Очень много отсылок к древнегреческим мифам, но в целом если эти отсылки пропускать, то читать будет не так скучно. Ну ещё одна и та же мысль раскрывается бесчиленное множество раз на похожих примерах, что тоже может надоесть.
    Есть довольно много крутых идей кроме антихрупкости, но есть и весьма подозрительные (типа авто считает, что антидепрессанты это чаще зло).


    洪一萍has quoted2 years ago
    Never ask anyone for their opinion, forecast, or recommendation. Just ask them what they have—or don’t have—in their portfolio.
    Иванов Алексейhas quoted9 months ago
    At the present time, one person is dying of diabetes every seven seconds, but the news can only talk about victims of hurricanes with houses flying in the air.
    洪一萍has quotedlast year
    Perhaps Voltaire’s charm was in that he did not know how to save his wit. So the same hidden antifragilities apply to attacks on our ideas and persons: we fear them and dislike negative publicity, but smear campaigns, if you can survive them, help enormously, conditional on the person appearing to be extremely motivated and adequately angry—just as when you hear a woman badmouthing another in front of a man (or vice versa). There is a visible selection bias: why did he attack you instead of someone else, one of the millions of persons deserving but not worthy of attack? It is his energy in attacking or badmouthing that will, antifragile style, put you on the map.

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