Antifragile - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder is a book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb published in 2012.

Chapter Summaries

The following Chapter Summaries are adapted from Taleb, Nassim. Antifragile (p. xvii). Penguin Books Ltd. and are intended for educational purposes only.

Book 1: The Antifragile : An Introduction

CHAPTER 1. Explains how we missed the word “antifragility” in classrooms. Fragile-Robust-Antifragile as Damocles-Phoenix-Hydra. Domain dependence.
CHAPTER 2. Where we find overcompensation. Obsessive love is the most antifragile thing outside of economics.
CHAPTER 3. The difference between the organic and the engineered. Touristification and attempts to suck volatility out of life.
CHAPTER 4. The antifragility of the whole often depends on the fragility of the parts. Why death is a necessity for life. The benefits of errors for the collective. Why we need risk takers. A few remarks about modernity missing the point. A salute to the entrepreneur and risk taker.

Book 2: Modernity and the denial of Antifragiliity

The Procustean Bed

CHAPTER 5. Two different randomness categories, seen through the profiles of two brothers. How Switzerland is not controlled from above. The difference between Mediocristan and Extremistan. The virtues of city-states, bottom-up political systems, and the stabilizing effect of municipal noise.
CHAPTER 6. Systems that like randomness. Annealing inside and outside physics. Explains the effect of overstabilizing organisms and complex systems (political, economic, etc.). The defects of intellectualism. U.S. foreign policy, and pseudostabilization.
CHAPTER 7. An introduction to naive intervention and iatrogenics, the most neglected product of modernity. Noise and signal and overintervening from noise. CHAPTER 8. Prediction as the child of modernity.

Book 3: A Nonpredictive view of the world.

CHAPTER 9. Fat Tony, the smeller of fragility, Nero, long lunches, and squeezing the fragilistas.
CHAPTER 10. In which Professor Triffat refuses his own medicine and we use Seneca and stoicism as a back door to explain why everything antifragile has to have more upside than downside and hence benefits from volatility, error, and stressors—the fundamental asymmetry.
CHAPTER 11. What to mix and not to mix. The barbell strategy in life and things as the transformation of anything from fragile to antifragile.

Book 4: Optionality, technology, and the intelligence of Antifragility

(The tension between education, which loves order, and innovation, which loves disorder.)
CHAPTER 12. Thales versus Aristotle, and the notion of optionality, which allows you not to know what’s going on—why it has been misunderstood owing to the conflation. How Aristotle missed the point. Optionality in private life. Conditions under which tinkering outperforms design. Rational flâneur.
CHAPTER 13. Asymmetric payoffs behind growth, little else. The Soviet-Harvard illusion, or the lecturing-birds-how-to-fly effect. Epiphenomena.
CHAPTER 14. The green lumber fallacy. Tension between episteme and trial and error, and the role through history. Does knowledge generate wealth, and if so, which knowledge? When two things are not the same thing.
CHAPTER 15. Rewriting the history of technology. How, in science, history is rewritten by the losers and how I saw it in my own business and how we can generalize. Does knowledge of biology hurt medicine? Hiding the role of luck. What makes a good entrepreneur?
CHAPTER 16. How to deal with Soccer Moms. The education of a flâneur.
CHAPTER 17. Fat Tony argues with Socrates. Why can’t we do things we can’t explain, and why do we have to explain things we do? The Dionysian. The sucker-nonsucker approach to things.

Book 5: The Nonlinear and the nonlinear

CHAPTER 18. Convexity, concavity, and convexity effects. Why size fragilizes.
CHAPTER 19. The Philosopher’s Stone. Deeper into convexity. How Fannie Mae went bust. Nonlinearity. The heuristic to detect fragility and antifragility. Convexity biases, Jensen’s inequality, and their impact on ignorance.

Book 6: Via Negativa

CHAPTER 20. Neomania. Looking at the future by via negativa. The Lindy effect: the old outlives the new in proportion to its age. Empedocles’ Tile. Why the irrational has an edge over the perceived-to-be-rational.
CHAPTER 21. Medicine and asymmetry. Decision rules in medical problems: why the very ill has a convex payoff and the healthy has concave exposures.
CHAPTER 22. Medicine by subtraction. Introduces the match between individuals and the type of randomness in the environment. Why I don’t want to live forever.

Book 7: The ethics of fragility and antifragility

CHAPTER 23. The agency problem as transfer of fragility. Skin in the game. Doxastic commitment, or soul in the game. The Robert Rubin problem, the Joseph Stiglitz problem, and the Alan Blinder problem, all three about agency, and one about cherry-picking.
CHAPTER 24. Ethical inversion. The collective can be wrong while individuals know it. How people are trapped into an opinion, and how to set them free.
CHAPTER 25. Conclusion.
EPILOGUE. What happens when Nero leaves to go to the Levant to observe the rite of Adonis.



Critical Responses

Fragile Reasoning in Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile


Royal Society Arts - Talk - 2013

Talks at Google - 2013

Nassim Taleb and Daniel Kahneman discussion - 2013

Microsoft Research - 2016