Antifragility

Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire.

Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos: you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind. This summarizes this author’s non-meek attitude to randomness and uncertainty.

We just don’t want to just survive uncertainty, just about make it. We want to survive uncertainty and, in addition –like a certain class of aggressive Roman Stoics —have the last word. The mission is how to domesticate, even dominate, even conquer, the unseen, the opaque, and the inexplicable.

How?

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, uncertainty, opacity, adventure, disorder and stressors. Yet, in spite the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile.

Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness: the resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. It is behind everything that has changed with time: evolution, culture, ideas, revolutions, political systems, technological innovation cultural and economic success, corporate survival, good food recipes (say, chicken soup or steak tartare with a drop of cognac), the rise of cities, cultures, legal systems, equatorial forests, bacterial resistance… Even our own existence as a species on this planet.

- The opening paragraphs of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book (not published yet, but the prologue is on his website).