Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the writer of The Black Swan once again presents us with an interesting and original theory in Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. In The Black Swan, Taleb argued that certain large-scale, improbable events such as WWI cannot be predicted. As human beings, we keep trying to figure out what will happen in the future based on what's happening now, but the narrative keeps changing and fools us all.
In Antifragile, he suggests that there are certain things that are the opposite of fragile. They're not merely robust or resilient because this would mean that they take negative impacts but survive through them. Antifragile things don't just survive negative impacts; they grow and benefit from them. He gives several examples of this kind of thinking which applies in people's personal lives as well as in society as a whole.
Taleb points out that the actions of overprotective parents can result in a child actually becoming weaker rather than stronger, and patients who are constantly visiting the doctor can end up being more sickly. If you look at the larger picture, a banking system with many small banks turns out to be stronger or "antifragile" when compared to one big bank. From this point of view, small is often better and more resilient than big. Whereas a tree may get uprooted in a storm, grasses survive because they can bend in the breeze.
What you end up taking away from Taleb's book is a healthy tendency to take manageable risks, try many new things and generally enjoy the chaos that is a part of life.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese-American who was born in Lebanon to a physician and oncologist and a researcher in anthropology. His family has played a prominent role in Lebanese politics, with his grandfather and great-grandfather being deputy Prime Ministers. He attended the University of Paris where he got his Bachelor's and earned an MBA at the Wharton School at UPenn. Then he returned to Paris and got his Ph.D. in Management Science. He has taught at Oxford University and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He has also worked as a Wall Street trader and a hedge fund manager.
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. Download and start listening now!