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jerryking : disorder   6

Why trauma may be just what you need - The Globe and Mail
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Special to The Globe and Mail

Last updated Saturday, Dec. 01 2012

with Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, an expansion of his thinking on risk beyond business and the markets to all sides of life. He begins from the standpoint that the opposite of being vulnerable to random events is not simply to be sturdy or adaptable, but actually to thrive on some degree of calamity and improve by it – “antifragility.” He rails against the “fragilistas” who make things more dangerous by seeking an unrealizable stability, and advocates for a “hormetic” approach (strengthening the system with small doses of toxins) in education, health, politics, careers, finance and many other areas.

In this passage, Mr. Taleb considers the “antifragile” benefits of trauma, redundancy and overcompensation
Nassim_Taleb  books  disorder  antifragility  randomness  toxins  trauma  redundancies  overcompensation 
december 2012 by jerryking
Antifragile
by Taleb, Nassim Nicholas.
Year/Format: 2012

Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

In The Black Swan,Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of theTitanicsave lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.

Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.
antifragility  Black_Swan  blueprints  bones  bone_density  books  brittle  city-states  disorder  improbables  libraries  Nassim_Taleb  revenge_effects  stressful  tension  turmoil  unpredictability  volatility 
november 2012 by jerryking
Learning to Love Volatility: Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Antifragile
November 16, 2012 | WSJ | Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Some made the mistake of thinking that I hoped to see us develop better methods for predicting black swans. Others asked if we should just give up and throw our hands in the air: If we could not measure the risks of potential blowups, what were we to do? The answer is simple: We should try to create institutions that won't fall apart when we encounter black swans—or that might even gain from these unexpected events....To deal with black swans, we instead need things that gain from volatility, variability, stress and disorder. My (admittedly inelegant) term for this crucial quality is "antifragile." The only existing expression remotely close to the concept of antifragility is what we derivatives traders call "long gamma," to describe financial packages that benefit from market volatility. Crucially, both fragility and antifragility are measurable.

As a practical matter, emphasizing antifragility means that our private and public sectors should be able to thrive and improve in the face of disorder. By grasping the mechanisms of antifragility, we can make better decisions without the illusion of being able to predict the next big thing. We can navigate situations in which the unknown predominates and our understanding is limited.

Herewith are five policy rules that can help us to establish antifragility as a principle of our socioeconomic life.

Rule 1:Think of the economy as being more like a cat than a washing machine.

We are victims of the post-Enlightenment view that the world functions like a sophisticated machine, to be understood like a textbook engineering problem and run by wonks. In other words, like a home appliance, not like the human body. If this were so, our institutions would have no self-healing properties and would need someone to run and micromanage them, to protect their safety, because they cannot survive on their own.

By contrast, natural or organic systems are antifragile: They need some dose of disorder in order to develop. Deprive your bones of stress and they become brittle. This denial of the antifragility of living or complex systems is the costliest mistake that we have made in modern times.

Rule 2:Favor businesses that benefit from their own mistakes,not those whose mistakes percolate into the system.

Some businesses and political systems respond to stress better than others. The airline industry is set up in such a way as to make travel safer after every plane crash.

Rule 3:Small is beautiful, but it is also efficient.

Experts in business and government are always talking about economies of scale. They say that increasing the size of projects and institutions brings costs savings. But the "efficient," when too large, isn't so efficient. Size produces visible benefits but also hidden risks; it increases exposure to the probability of large losses.
Rule 4:Trial and error beats academic knowledge.
Rule 5:Decision makers must have skin in the game.

In the business world, the solution is simple: Bonuses that go to managers whose firms subsequently fail should be clawed back, and there should be additional financial penalties for those who hide risks under the rug. This has an excellent precedent in the practices of the ancients. The Romans forced engineers to sleep under a bridge once it was completed (jk: personal risk and skin in the game).
Nassim_Taleb  resilience  black_swan  volatility  turmoil  brittle  antifragility  personal_risk  trial_&_error  unknowns  size  unexpected  economies_of_scale  risks  hidden  compounded  disorder  latent  financial_penalties  Romans  skin_in_the_game  deprivations  penalties  stressful  variability 
november 2012 by jerryking
When the Pieces Put Themselves Together - NYTimes.com
July 11, 2012 | NYT |By JENNIFER 8. LEE

Instead of assembly lines, what if manufacturing moved to self-assembly lines?

There is something counterintuitive about seeing toys and furniture that spring together simply when their pieces are shaken around and around.

Doesn’t this go against the principles of entropy we learned in high school science, where order is supposed to dissolve into disorder?

Actually, no. Self-assembly is a well-studied phenomenon on the molecular level — snowflakes, proteins, viruses — and one of the driving forces in nanotechnology. But researchers are taking principles from microbiology and applying them on the macro level — furniture, infrastructure and even buildings for space...Certain principles govern self-assembly. First, there needs to be a blueprint of the ultimate form. Second, the system needs to have forces of attraction that bring together the parts. These can either be magnets or electrostatic forces. Third, error correction has to allow the pieces to “fix” themselves when they assemble in the wrong way. Fourth, an external energy source is needed to activate the assembly. On the molecular level, this is often heat, but on the human scale it can be simple shaking. (It is actually this external energy source that allows self-assembly to seemingly violate the principle of entropy, since entropy is a law that applies only to isolated systems)...Self-assembly is most useful where human hands have difficulty bolting things together — outer space, extreme cold, free fall and deep oceans, he says.
self-assembly  manufacturers  toys  entropy  nanotechnology  error_correction  disorder  human_scale  blueprints 
july 2012 by jerryking
The causes: The roots of hatred
September 20th, 2001| The Economist

America defends its interests, sometimes skilfully, sometimes clumsily, just as other countries do. Since power, like nature, abhors a vacuum, it steps into places where disorder reigns. On the whole, it should do so more, not less, often. Of all the great powers in history, it is probably the least territorial, the most idealistic. Muslims in particular should note that the armed interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, both led by America, were attacks on Christian regimes in support of Muslim victims. In neither did the United States stand to make any material gain; in neither were its vital interests, conventionally defined, at stake. Those who criticise America's leadership of the world's capitalist system—a far from perfect affair—should remember that it has brought more wealth and better living standards to more people than any other in history. And those who regret America's triumph in the cold war should stop to think how the world would look if the Soviet Union had won. America's policies may have earned it enemies. But in truth, it is difficult to find plausible explanations for the virulence of last week's attacks, except in the envy, hatred and moral confusion of those who plotted and perpetrated them.
cold_war  root_cause  anti-Americanism  disorder  international_system  national_interests  superpowers  leadership  U.S.  virulence 
june 2012 by jerryking
Bret Stephens: Obama's Air Guitar - WSJ.com
NOV. 16, 2010 /WSJ / By BRET STEPHENS.The danger of America's
will to weakness.Whether a U.S. president ought to get his way on a
matter of policy is one thing.That a president can't get his way is
another.That's a recipe for the global disorder as we see encroaching
from Central America to the Middle & Far East..What does it mean for
global order when the world figures out that the U.S. president is
someone who's willing to take no for an answer?The U.S. becomes
Europe.Except on a handful of topics, e.g. trade & foreign aid, the
foreign policy of the EU, & that of most of its constituent states,
amounts to diplomatic air guitar: furious motion, considerable
imagination, but neither sound nor effect.When a EU leader issues a
stern demarche toward, say, Burma or Russia, nobody notices--or cares.
If the U.S. were to become another Europe—not out of diminished power,
but out of a diminished will to assert its power—the small & distant
abuses of power, would grow bolder & more frequent.
Bret_Stephens  obama  multipolarity  globalization  ineffectual  abuses  America_in_Decline?  impotence  political_will  disorder 
november 2010 by jerryking

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