ANTIFRAGILE by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Published on Jan 9, 2013
Radical philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers a blueprint for how to live – and thrive – in a world we don’t understand, and which is too uncertain for us to even try to predict.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of ‘The Black Swan’ and one of the most radical and iconoclastic thinkers of our times, visits the RSA to reveal how to thrive in an uncertain world.
In ‘The Black Swan’, Taleb showed that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In his new book Antifragile, he provides a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world. Standing uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, Taleb 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. The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine, in Taleb’s uniquely interdisciplinary and erudite style.
At the RSA, Nassim Taleb will show how the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events, and will consider a number of critical questions, such as: why is the city-state better than the nation-state; why is debt bad for you; why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all; and why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak?
Speaker: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute and author of ‘Antifragile: how to live in a world we don’t understand’ (Allen Lane, 2012).
Discussant: Rohan Silva, senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister at No 10 Downing Street.
Chair: Fraser Nelson, editor, The Spectator
Antifragile is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, and The Bed of Procrustes.
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
“Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining.”—The Economist
“A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives.”—Newsweek
“Revelatory . . . [Taleb] pulls the reader along with the logic of a Socrates.”—Chicago Tribune
“Startling . . . richly crammed with insights, stories, fine phrases and intriguing asides . . . I will have to read it again. And again.”—Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal
“Trenchant and persuasive . . . Taleb’s insatiable polymathic curiosity knows no bounds. . . . You finish the book feeling braver and uplifted.”—New Statesman
“Antifragility isn’t just sound economic and political doctrine. It’s also the key to a good life.”—Fortune
“At once thought-provoking and brilliant.”—Los Angeles Times
ANTI-FRAGILE INFORMATION SYSTEMS
As complex socio-technical systems composed of many interconnected parts, interacting in non-linear, dynamic, emergent, and unexpected ways, Information Systems are fragile. In this paper we introduce the concept of antifragility as an alternative means of apprehending the fragility of Information Systems and a novel way of dealing with risk, uncertainty, and the unknown. Antifragility is the opposite of fragility. Antifragility allows us to go beyond robustness or resilience by moving away from a predictive mode of thinking and decision making to a mode that embraces the unknown and randomness and focuses on the characteristics that render systems fragile rather than trying to assess and predict the chain of events that may harm them. We propose a set of guidelines for moving from the fragile toward the antifragile and explore, for the processes of the IT function, their applications and the questions they raise for practice and research.