Antifragile – Things That Gain from Disorder


Taleb is back, and he is even more brash and brilliant. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s fame grew from his second book, The Black Swan, being timely released just before the 2008 financial crisis. Antifragile continues his narrative on probability and risk. The Black Swan took on the theory that the highly improbable was a lot more probable than we thought. Antifragile takes the next step and proposes that it’s good to be subject to black swan events and other disorder.

He coins the term “antifragile” to address the situation where something improves as it is subject to disorder or stress. I goes beyond robust. I thought the best explanation was through the use of mythology.

The sword of Damocles is fragile. All it takes is a small amount of damage to sever the horsehair and send the sword plummeting into the person sitting beneath it.

The phoenix is robust. Once it dies, it is reborn from its ashes to live again.

The hydra is antifragile. If you mange to cut off one of its heads, two sprout in its place. The more damage it takes, the more powerful it becomes.

The next step is to realize that the effects of fragility are not linear. As the overload increases, the damage increases dramatically. Getting hit by by one rock weighing 50 pounds will hurt a lot more than getting hit by 1000 rocks that weigh 0.05 pounds. There is an acceleration of harm. The black swan comes when you get hit by the 50 pound rock, when you had been expecting another pebble.

The book is an excellent reading choice for anyone involved in compliance or risk management

The publisher sent me a free copy of the book in hopes of a review.