Antifragile Notes & Terminology

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The purpose of this post is to act as a reference point and primer for the topics and terminology used in Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
I will add to this post over time as I write on these topics in more detail.
The Triad
Taleb describes Fragility, Robustness and Anti-Fragility as the Triad. I like to think about them as follows. Imagine holding a glass in your hand, you drop it from several metres to a concrete floor.
  • A fragile glass breaks upon on impact
  • A robust glass does not break upon on impact
  • An antifragile glass is enhanced by the impact. It is now a better glass.
Optionality can be defined as the ability to asymmetrically benefit from a given set of circumstances. I like to consider as the difference between an a la carte and a prix fix menu. The a la carte provides options for each course. Perhaps you are not sure whether you want dessert, no need to make your mind up until you have to whereas a prix fix requires a single decision upfront with subsequent less flexibility.
Black Swans
A black swan is an event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and is extremely difficult to predict . It can be positive or negative. Using optionality to expose yourself to positive black swans is advantageous. Achieving antifragility will ensure that in the event of a negative black swan you can still benefit from it.
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