ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Antifragile focuses on how to deal with uncertainty and even benefit from volatility. Taleb calls this being antifragile, meaning more than simply being robust or resilient, because you not only withstand change and setbacks but you grow and benefit from them. The idea is not to guess or even understand what the future might bring but instead look for options that have upside but little downside. Large benefits and benign harm. He is very much on the side of doing rather than thinking and advocates the notion of tinkering, or the 'fail fast, fail small' way of doing things. The trial and error of things with reversible or benign mistakes, but with large potential upside - these are the options to look for.
Taleb's provocative style make this move along - it is not a dry business book. Moreover, it is a broad philosophical approach to many parts of our lives. Taleb is learned in the classics and espouses the wisdom of the ancients but combines that with what he sees as real knowledge learned on the streets. Some of the most engaging sections are where he uses a fictional street-savvy character called Fat Tony when illustrating the difference between what you need to know and what suckers think they know. Taleb is full of disdain for economists and the predictions business, feels concerned for fragile university-trained bureaucrats and takes a dim view of Theory, over-intellectualising and confusion caused by too much data. This makes him confronting for some and entertaining for others.
I invite you to test your world-view for its antifragility by spending some time with Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Fat Tony. Craig
Antifragility is about loving randomness, uncertainty, opacity, adventure and disorder, and benefitting from a variety of shocks. It is about what to do when you don't understand. It is a new word because it is a new concept. Many of the greatest breakthroughs in human endeavour come from the trial and error that is part of antifragility. And some of the best systems we know of, including evolution, have antifragility at their heart. Medicine, economics, even politics, could all be improved by embracing it. It is often what really drives innovation and invention. Our failure to realize this has even led to many huge historical misunderstandings about religion and belief. So, how can we take advantage of antifragility? What are the good things we can expose ourselves to? How do we become energized by volatility and uncertainty? Taleb ranges over ideas and real-life situations, from why debt brings fragility, why he abhors the fakeness of halfmen, why if we lose nothing we will gain nothing, and why we should detest the lack of accountability at the heart of capitalism. He shows us that chaos is what makes us human. The most successful of us, the most daring, relentless and creative will take advantage of this disorder and invent new, more powerful opportunities and advantages beyond our expectations.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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