2024 March 05 14:53

I just started reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s 2012 book Antifragile, and I’m finding it quite riveting. The experience reminds me of three other books that immediately grabbed me, and for the same reason: they all articulated in words and ideas feelings that I had about the world, feelings that felt true but that I had no way to express. Those three other books:

A few years ago – when I was reading everything in my local library to try to understand economics, investing, and globalization – I found the prequel to Antifragility, Taleb’s The black swan. I found one of the book’s theses – that we live in Extremistan, subject to extreme events (the titular black swans) that we have no idea how to plan for or predict – quite compelling, but I didn’t make it very far into the book before giving up. Now I wish I had persevered.

Antifragile is Taleb’s answer to black swans. The idea is that we should be building systems and living our lives in antifragile ways. Things that are antifragile get stronger when subjected to shocks, randomness, chaos, crisis, disorder, where fragile things break or unravel.

Interestingly, resilience and robustness are not the opposite of fragility, as these are things that are mostly immune to shock and disorder, but are also mostly unchanged by them, unlike the antifragile, which improve under adverse circumstances.

Read the 2023 journal.