Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Published in November 2012
Thibault’s Score: 5/5
Antifragile is more than the name of this book. It is a word that describes a new and necessary concept, and since reading the book, I cannot help but find ways to use it in day to day conversation.
Antifragile describes a system that gains from chaos. It is distinct from fragile - a system that breaks when in contact with chaos as well as robust - a system that persists through chaos.
Imagine that you are shipping whiskey. There are three ways you could do it. First, you could ship it in glass bottles. Glass breaks easily. Using glass would be fragile. Alternatively, you could use metal flasks. The metal will resist shocks, and the condition of the whiskey in the end will be the same. Using metal flasks would be robust. But if you are really smart, you ship the whiskey in wooden barrels. The shaking and stirring causes the whiskey to actually improve in flavor. This method of shipping would be antifragile.
Many systems in nature are antifragile: the human body when exercising; decentralized political systems; the Italian mafia; the tinkers building new machines in their basement; etc… Many others are fragile: corporate pill based medicine; empires; accounting firms; directed scientific research, etc…
Understanding the concept of antifragility is critical to build any durable human system. Whether you are designing a policy, building a business, or planning antifragile, mastering the concept is a must.
To me, many of the ideas were not new. In many ways, the book gave me words I can use to describe my pre-existing worldview. I have been thinking of antifragile systems for years now, and I now finally have good language to express my ideas.
I strongly recommend this book. To everyone. Trying to do anything.
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