Antifragile: Disorder Enables Growth

Some years ago (2008/09) as the financial markets were coming unglued, I happened to see an interview with Nassim Taleb, a former options trader who predicted the unravelling of the world’s financial system with his “Black Swan” theory. In fact, there is a lovely Bloomberg interview with Mr. Taleb who clearly stakes out his views in 2009 which takes to task Geithner, Obama and others on how to fix the financial system.

Personally, I found Nassim Taleb to be a bit “heavy” and not the glib “suit” that typically “drops wisdom” on listeners of CNBC and Bloomberg.    Nevertheless, the “black swan theory” stuck firmly in my brain as I realized that seemingly random and apparently inconsequential events could easily break most predictive models.

Encouraged by someone I respect, I started reading Antifragile:  Things that Gain from Disorder, which Mr. Taleb first published in 2012.  Found below is a somewhat superficial video overview of a book which articulates a way forward to analyze the frailty, robustness or antifragility of “almost everything about our world.”

I have only gotten through the prologue and am totally hooked. I can’t wait to delve into the 7 books, although Mr. Taleb suggests that “the enlightened reader” may wish to skip book 5. Let’s face it, who can argue with someone whose first ethical rule is: “If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.”

I doubt that this book will resonate with the many frauds holding public office and the self-assured bureaucrats at the Fed and the European Community, but it is compulsive reading for anyone wishing to see the world without the need for rose-colored glasses. This book calls into question many of the myths which currently dominate business, science, ethics, decision making, learning, regulation and political systems. What a breath of fresh air. It is rare to see such uncompromising intellectual honesty.

Wouldn’t you like a simplistic yet compelling model to look at most everything around you to determine if it is fragile, robust or antifragile? I do, because then you have a framework of dealing objectively with your environment and patiently allow disorder to work its wonder.

Simply brilliant Mr. Taleb.