How to benefit from disorder
Redundancy is nature's risk management strategy
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a modern day philosopher. He suggests that people and things are in one of three states: Fragile, Robust or Anti-fragile. The opposite of Fragile is not Robust, but Anti-fragile - benefiting from disorder. Below are insights on Robustness and Anti-fragility from Taleb’s book The Bed of Procrustes.
Robustness and anti-fragility
To understand how something works, figure out how to break it.
When developing apps I often break, fix then improve code. This is part of My 5 Step Learning Process.
Failure-resistant is achievable; failure-free is not.
For the robust, an error is information; for the fragile, an error is an error.
I adopt an Open Mindset which is explored further in Our Unfair Advantages.
Robust is progress with impatience.
General principle: the solution (on balance) needs to be simpler than the problems.
Ways to achieve this are explored in Simplicity in 8 steps.
Robust is when you care more about the few who like your work than the multitude who dislike it (artists); fragile when you care more about the few who dislike your work than the multitude who like it (politicians).
It strikes me that, in the context of making things, there is a parallel with Paul Graham’s suggestion that it is better to make a few users love you than a lot ambivalent.
The only valid political system is one that can handle an imbecile in power without suffering from it.
Interesting given what happened in the UK in October 2022.
For a free person, the optimal - most opportunistic - route between two points should never be the shortest one.
Nation-states like war; city-states like commerce; families like stability; and individuals like entertainment.
The BBC’s A History of Britain in Numbers podcast explained that Income Tax was introduced in 1798 to fund the Napoleonic Wars.
The main disadvantage of being a writer, particularly in Britain, is that there is nothing you can do in public or private that would damage your reputation.
This is an example of anti-fragility: publicity leads to more book sales. Perhaps this exposes Taleb’s sense of humour as a writer himself.
I find Taleb’s ideas refreshing and deeply thought provoking. Taleb has a dislike for professions and organisations which, in his view, do not have Skin in the Game. If you can see past the somewhat abrasive style then I think there is much to gain from taking a closer look at his work.
Anti-fragile book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
How to Profit from Chaos by Nat Eliason
Demystifying Randomness post by Phil Martin
This post shared some of my favourite Nassim Nicholas Taleb quotes on robustness and anti-fragility. Until next Sunday, remember that after a tough workout your muscles will come back stronger.