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Antifragility: A Student's Perspective

by Andy Barrales 4 years ago in book reviews

Randomness and Its Gains

No, it's not what you think, you Marvel Super Fans.

So do you know what Hydra is? No, not the glorified super villains that suck at getting the job done against one super-soldier with an almost limitless number of resources. The mythical creature, the Hydra, is supposed to be an awesome beast that Hercules faces in order to complete his trials and ascend to God-like status. So this creature is the kind of thing that Nicholas Nassim Taleb would consider an antifragile being. What is antifragile you ask? Well, being antifragile comes in degrees, and according to Taleb there are three distinct levels that lead up to this state of ultra-actualization: Fragility, Robustness, and Antifragility.

1. Fragility

Fragility in this case would be the way that a person or item that is in a system would be much more prone to being destroyed or affected negatively by the events in the system. So, what is a system? Essentially a system would be the way that we categorize events happening in a particular place. So, for instance, a game of chess, the pieces are the objects being affected since they would have to follow certain guidelines in order to move and are affected in such a way that they are limited in their mobility. This is what we would call a "Closed System" since the factors that affect the way that the pieces are moved are finite. Our real-world environment would be much more chaotic because there are hundreds of variables affecting the environment at any given time, some of which we aren't even aware of, like an asteroid a hundred times bigger than earth hurtling towards us right now that would take a millennia to hit us. So, this is what is called an "Open System", since there are such a wide array of different forces acting at all times which are not as finite as a chess board. Fragility is essentially the inability to maintain itself from harm caused by randomness, like a glass house during an earthquake and God knows no one would hate a broken glass house more than, say, John McClane from Die Hard. It's like not being able to deal with the "lovely" surprises your life brings you every now and then.

'Die Hard' is fragile...?

I didn't learn from the first time, apparently.

2. Robustness

Robustness is the equivalent of being the brick house in the three little pigs' story...you don't get affected by all the huffing and puffing. So, robustness is being consistent through all the randomness that seeps into your life and remaining the same as you were before, after. Let's say you were a building and your town is hit by an earthquake. If you are the same after, then you would be considered robust. I mean, the truth is that there is probably going to be some damage at the heart of the wood or foundation but that's why this was a hypothetical. It is not good or bad to be robust, you don't have a gain from the earthquake, but its not like it adds another bed and bath to the building.

3. Antifragile

Nicholas Nassim Taleb is the author of a book and he speaks out on the way that some things grew due to harm that was caused by antifragility. One of my own examples would be the events that transpired on September 11th in the United States. First off, the events that happened on September were devastating to the people who's loved ones were caught in the crossfire and our respects go out to them.

book reviews

Andy Barrales

College student majoring in research and concept design with a communications and Politics and History. I'm a chill guy and live for conversations breaking down pop culture, philosophy and modern day interactions and their significance...

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