Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Home Page has a link to the video Nassim Taleb and Daniel Kahneman discusses Antifragility at NYPL. I always find it easy to understand the concept and the value of what he ...
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Something central, very central, is missing in historical accounts of scientific and technological discovery. The discourse and controversies focus on the role of luck as opposed to teleological programs (from telos, "aim"), that is, ones that rely on pre-set direction from formal science. This is a faux-debate: luck cannot lead to formal research policies; one cannot systematize, formalize, and program randomness. The driver is neither luck nor direction, but must be in the asymmetry (or convexity) of payoffs, a simple mathematical property that has lied hidden from the discourse, and the understanding of which can lead to precise research principles and protocols.
The point we will be making here is that logically, neither trial and error nor "chance" and serendipity can be behind the gains in technology and empirical science attributed to them. By definition chance cannot lead to long term gains (it would no longer be chance); trial and error cannot be unconditionally effective: errors cause planes to crash, buildings to collapse, and knowledge to regress.
The beneficial properties have to reside in the type of exposure, that is, the payoff function and not in the "luck" part: there needs to be a significant asymmetry between the gains (as they need to be large) and the errors (small or harmless), and it is from such asymmetry that luck and trial and error can produce results.
*These are rather like the principles of the Joi Ito-era MIT Media Lab, but even scarier. Imagine falling into the clutches of an antifragile justice system
“System design principles
“(1) Stick to simple rules
“(3) Develop layered systems
“(4) Build in redundancy and overcompensation
“(5) Resist the urge to suppress randomness
“(6) Ensure everyone has skin in the game
“(7) Give higher status to practitioners rather than theoreticians
Anne Caspari's insight:
I posted the reffered articles by Hagel and Taleb before, but this is a cool summary/overview.
'Antifragile' is a celebration of risk and randomness and a call to arms to recognize and embrace antifragility.
Many readers misunderstand Taleb’s core message. They assume that because Taleb writes about unseen and improperly calculated risks, his objective must be to reduce or eliminate risk. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Antifragile is a celebration of risk and randomness and a call to arms to recognize and embrace antifragility.
Rather than reduce risk, organize your life, your business or your society in such a way that it benefits from randomness and the occasional Black Swan event.
Taleb’s own life is a case in point. He had the free time to write Fooled, The Black Swan and Antifragile because—in his own words—he made “F___ you money” during the greatest Black Swan event of our lifetimes, the 1987 stock market crash.
...Taleb’s trading style is antifragile, had the 1987 crash never happened, Taleb would not have been materially hurt. His trading style puts little at risk but allows for outsized returns.
Via Deb Nystrom, REVELN, Philippe Vallat, Anne Caspari