Author Topic: Living an Antifragile life  (Read 1250 times)

PaulM12345

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Living an Antifragile life
« on: November 29, 2012, 11:34:32 AM »
I recently read a review of Nicholas Taleb's new book Antifragile and it brought to mind some of MMM's ideas on, well, life in general. I haven't read the book so I can't say much about his thoughts on society (government, the economy, etc.), but on an individual basis, living an antifragile life seems like a pretty good way to approach the uncertainties of the world. (emphasis below is all mine)

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/a49f8514-3329-11e2-8e44-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2DdZvLEFz

Quote
So what advice can Taleb offer? His central argument is encapsulated in the title. Until now, Taleb says, modern society has generally assumed that people, systems or institutions fell into two camps: either they were fragile (and likely to break when shocks occur) or robust (and thus able to resist shocks without being impacted at all). Taleb insists there is a third category of people, institutions and systems that are resilient in a way we have been unable to articulate: they survive shocks not because they are immovable but precisely because they do change, bending in the face of stress; adapting and learning. This is the quality that he describes as “antifragile”. (In the US the book is being published with the rather more explicit subtitle “Things that Gain from Disorder”.)
...
Taleb has plenty of advice to offer us on how to become more antifragile. We should embrace unpredictable change, rather than chase after an illusion of stability; refuse to believe anyone who offers advice without taking personal risk; keep institutions and systems small and self-contained to ensure that they can fail without bringing the entire system down; build slack into our lives and systems to accommodate surprises; and, above all, recognise the impossibility of predicting anything with too much precision. Instead of building systems that are excessively “safe”, Taleb argues, we should roll with the punches, learn to love the random chances of life and, above all, embrace small pieces of adversity as opportunities for improvement. “Wind extinguishes a candle and energises a fire,” he writes. “Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos, you want to use them, not hide from them.”

Any thoughts?


Jack

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Re: Living an Antifragile life
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2012, 12:07:42 PM »
The word he was really looking for was either "malleable" or "ductile."

PaulM12345

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Re: Living an Antifragile life
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2012, 04:10:33 PM »
I agree that "Antifragile" sounds a little clumsy. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if in the book he justifies using a neologism over alternate words.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Living an Antifragile life
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2012, 04:29:51 PM »
Resilient is the word.

DocCyane

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Re: Living an Antifragile life
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2012, 04:46:11 PM »
Resilient is the word.

I like resilient.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

KGZotU

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Re: Living an Antifragile life
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2012, 07:03:41 PM »
Two thoughts.

  • Resiliency and efficiency are often in opposition. It can be very efficient to seat the majority of the world's production of a particular good in a particular location, like RAM foundries in South Korea or hard drive manufacture in Thailand. Disaster shows us that these situations are fragile, but it's possible that we gain more from efficiency than we lose to fragility.
  • We can quantify our uncertainty (Bayes, yo) and optimize our actions according to expected value, best possible worst outcome, etc. It's tough to do it on an individual level because humans have very poorly defined goals, but at the institutional level it's very rewarding.