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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Date read: 2020-07-21
How strongly I recommend it: 10.0/10
(See my list of books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon book for details and reviews.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Telling signals from noises

The more frequently you look at data, the more noise you are disproportionally likely to get (rather than the valuable part, called the signal); hence the higher the noise-to-signal ratio.”

“Assume further that for what you are observing, at a yearly frequency, the ratio of signal to noise is about one to one (half noise, half signal).”

“But if you look at the very same data on a daily basis, the composition would change to 95 percent noise, 5 percent signal. And if you observe data on an hourly basis, as people immersed in the news and market price variations do, the split becomes 99.5 percent noise to 0.5 percent signal. ”

“The best solution is to only look at very large changes in data or conditions, never at small ones.”

Subtractive Knowledge

“charlatans are recognizable in that they will give you positive advice, and only positive advice, exploiting our gullibility and sucker-proneness for recipes that hit you in a flash as just obvious, then evaporate later as you forget them”

“in practice it is the negative that’s used by the pros, those selected by evolution: chess grandmasters usually win by not losing; people become rich by not going bust (particularly when others do); religions are mostly about interdicts; the learning of life is about what to avoid. ”

“In political systems, a good mechanism is one that helps remove the bad guy; it’s not about what to do or who to put in. For the bad guy can cause more harm than the collective actions of good ones”

Steve Jobs: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Media and the illusion of understanding the world

“There is so much noise coming from the media’s glorification of the anecdote. Thanks to this, we are living more and more in virtual reality, separated from the real world, a little bit more every day while realizing it less and less. Consider that every day, 6,200 persons die in the United States, many of preventable causes. But the media only report the most anecdotal and sensational cases (hurricanes, freak accidents, small plane crashes), giving us a more and more distorted map of real risks. In an ancestral environment, the anecdote, the “interesting,” is information; today, no longer. Likewise, by presenting us with explanations and theories, the media induce an illusion of understanding the world.”

Barbell learning

“I was rather a barbell autodidact as I studied the exact minimum necessary to pass any exam, overshooting accidentally once in a while, and only getting in trouble a few times by undershooting. But I read voraciously, wholesale, initially in the humanities, later in mathematics and science, and now in history—outside a curriculum”

“whatever I selected myself I could read with more depth and more breadth—there was a match to my curiosity”

The minute I was bored with a book or a subject I moved to another one, instead of giving up on reading altogether—when you are limited to the school material and you get bored”

“The trick is to be bored with a specific book, rather than with the act of reading. So the number of pages absorbed could grow faster than otherwise. And you find gold, so to speak, effortlessly, just as in rational but undirected trial-and-error-based research. It is exactly like options, trial and error, not getting stuck, bifurcating when necessary but keeping a sense of broad freedom and opportunism. Trial and error is freedom.”

“I started, around the age of thirteen, to keep a log of my reading hours, shooting for between thirty and sixty a week, a practice I’ve kept up for a long time”

Switzerland and education

“another element of Switzerland: it is perhaps the most successful country in history, yet it has traditionally had a very low level of university education compared to the rest of the rich nations. Its system, even in banking during my days, was based on apprenticeship models, nearly vocational rather than the theoretical ones. In other words, on techne (crafts and know how), not episteme (book knowledge, know what).”

Understanding fragility and forecasting harmful events

“It is much easier to understand if something is harmed by volatility—hence fragile—than try to forecast harmful events”

* It's hard to forecast Covid-19, but it's easier to be antifragile by exercising my body.

* It's hard to forecast a market crash, but it's easier to have plenty of cash in the bank and use the cash to buy antifragile businesses when the time comes.

Mistakes and reliability

“He who has never sinned is less reliable than he who has only sinned once. And someone who has made plenty of errors—though never the same error more than once—is more reliable than someone who has never made any

Minimum protection to individual and maximum antifragility to the collection

“We saw the trade-off between the interests of the collective and those of the individual. An economy cannot survive without breaking individual eggs; protection is harmful, and constraining the forces of evolution to benefit individuals does not seem required. But we can shield individuals from starvation, provide some social protection. And give them respect. ”

Stressors, volatility and randomness

“It is easy to see things around us that like a measure of stressors and volatility: economic systems, your body, your nutrition (diabetes and many similar modern ailments seem to be associated with a lack of randomness in feeding and the absence of the stressor of occasional starvation)”

Trial and error as optionality

“Any trial and error can be seen as the expression of an option, so long as one is capable of identifying a favorable result and exploiting it”

“The mechanism of option like trial and error (the fail-fast model), a.k.a. convex tinkering. Low-cost mistakes, with known maximum losses, and large potential payoff (unbounded). A central feature of positive Black Swans: the gains are unbounded (unlike a lottery ticket), or, rather, with an unknown limit; but the losses from errors are limited and known.”

Perishability and life expectency

“The nonperishable is anything that does not have an organic unavoidable expiration date. The perishable is typically an object, the nonperishable has an informational nature to it. A single car is perishable, but the automobile as a technology has survived about a century (and we will speculate should survive another one). Humans die, but their genes — a code — do not necessarily. The physical book is perishable — say, a specific copy of the Old Testament — but its contents are not, as they can be expressed into another physical book”

“For the perishable, every additional day in its life translates into a shorter additional life expectancy. For the nonperishable, every additional day may imply a longer life expectancy.”

Failure, success, errors, and true friends

“Variability causes mistakes and adaptations; it also allows you to know who your friends are. Both your failures and your successes will give you information. But, and this is one of the good things in life, sometimes you only know about someone’s character after you harm them with an error for which you are solely responsible—I have been astonished at the generosity of some persons in the way they forgave me for my mistakes”

“And of course you learn from the errors of others. You may never know what type of person someone is unless they are given opportunities to violate moral or ethical codes

Practitioners seldom write history

“Practitioners don’t write; they do. Birds fly and those who lecture them are the ones who write their story. So it is easy to see that history is truly written by losers with time on their hands and a protected academic position.”

Wealth

“Wealth is the slave of the wise man and master of the fool”

Antifragility and fasting

“there is this antifragility to the stressor of the fast, as it makes the wanted food taste better and can produce euphoria in one’s system. Breaking a fast feels like the exact opposite of a hangover

Happiness, exertion and lurid

“construction laborers seem happier with a ham and cheese baguette than businessmen with a Michelin three-star meal. Food tastes so much better after exertion”

history likes the lurid; they disliked comfort and understood its side effects

Focus on actions and avoid words

“There is another dimension to the need to focus on actions and avoid words: the health-eroding dependence on external recognition. People are cruel and unfair in the way they confer recognition, so it is best to stay out of that game. Stay robust to how others treat you.”

Payoffs from research and venture capitalism

“Payoffs from research are from Extremistan; they follow a power-law type of statistical distribution, with big, near-unlimited upside but, because of optionality, limited downside”

“payoff from research should necessarily be linear to number of trials, not total funds involved in the trials

“in Extremistan, it is more important to be in something in a small amount than to miss it. As one venture capitalist told me: “The payoff can be so large that you can’t afford not to be in everything.”

Antifragility and options

“John has one large employer, George many small ones—so he can select the ones that fit him the best and hence has, at any point in time, “more options.” One has the illusion of stability, but is fragile; the other one the illusion of variability, but is robust and even antifragile.”

What to read

“One of my students (who was majoring in, of all subjects, economics) asked me for a rule on what to read. “As little as feasible from the last twenty years, except history books that are not about the last fifty years

* I don't think this applies to technology books

Complex systems, interdependencies and nonlinear responses

“Complex systems are full of interdependencies—hard to detect—and nonlinear responses”

Game vs ecology complex system

“there are two domains, the ludic, which is set up like a game, with its rules supplied in advance in an explicit way, and the ecological, where we don’t know the rules and cannot isolate variables, as in real life. Seeing the nontransferability of skills from one domain to the other led me to skepticism in general about whatever skills are acquired in a classroom, anything in a non-ecological way, as compared to street fights and real-life situations”

there is no evidence that abilities in chess lead to better reasoning off the chessboard—even those who play blind chess games with an entire cohort can’t remember things outside the board better than a regular person. We accept the domain-specificity of games, the fact that they do not really train you for life, that there are severe losses in translation”

Good system and independent small errors

“Good systems such as airlines are set up to have small errors, independent from each other—or, in effect, negatively correlated to each other, since mistakes lower the odds of future mistakes”

Antifragile and fasting

“When you starve yourself of food, it is the bad proteins that are broken down first and recycled by your own body—a process called autophagy”

“This is a purely evolutionary process, one that selects and kills the weakest for fitness.”

Relativity of antifragility

“fragile and antifragile here are relative terms, not quite absolute properties”

“things are antifragile up to a certain level of stress”

Antifragility and entrepreneurship

“Look at it again, the way we looked at entrepreneurs. They are usually wrong and make “mistakes”—plenty of mistakes. They are convex. So what counts is the payoff from success.”

Doing, thinking and antifragility

“we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking, thanks to antifragility. I’d rather be dumb and antifragile than extremely smart and fragile, any time”

Freedom and words of trust

“never trust the words of a man who is not free”

“a mobster’s greatest asset is that “his word is gold.”

“Only a sense of honor can lead to commerce. Any commerce.”

Antifragility, losing and impunity

“the antifragile can lose for a long time with impunity, so long as he happens to be right once; for the fragile, a single loss can be terminal.”

Long life and stressor of hunger

“too much regular food is bad for you, and depriving humans of the stressor of hunger may make them live less than their full potential”

Hidden options and cherry-pick ethical rules

“some classes of people use hidden options and harm the collective without anyone realizing”

“another form of optionality: how people can cherry-pick ethical rules to fit their actions. Or how they use public office as a means to satisfy personal greed.”

Washing machine, ship of state and complex System

“The fragilista mistakes the economy for a washing machine that needs monthly maintenance, or misconstrues the properties of your body for those of a compact disc player.”

“Smith understood the opacity of complex systems as well as the interdependencies, since he developed the notion of the “invisible hand.”

“Unlike Adam Smith, Plato did not quite get it. Promoting the well-known metaphor of the ship of state, he likens a state to a naval vessel, which, of course, requires the monitoring of a captain. He ultimately argues that the only men fit to be captain of this ship are philosopher kings, benevolent men with absolute power who have access to the Form of the Good.”

How to not ask for advice

“Never ask anyone for their opinion, forecast, or recommendation. Just ask them what they have—or don’t have—in their portfolio.”

Betting against fragile

“Betting against the fragile is antifragile”

“Fat Tony’s model is quite simple. He identifies fragilities, makes a bet on the collapse of the fragile unit”

Wealth and antifragile risk taking

classroom education does not lead to wealth as much as it comes from wealth”

antifragile risk taking—not education and formal, organized research—is largely responsible for innovation and growth,”

“It does not mean that theories and research play no role; it is that just as we are fooled by randomness, so we are fooled into overestimating the role of good-sounding ideas

The rise of Interventionism

“There is an element of deceit associated with interventionism, accelerating in a professionalized society. It’s much easier to sell “Look what I did for you” than “Look what I avoided for you.” Of course a bonus system based on “performance” exacerbates the problem. ”

“The doctor who refrains from operating on a back (a very expensive surgery), instead giving it a chance to heal itself, will not be rewarded and judged as favorably as the doctor who makes the surgery look indispensable, then brings relief to the patient while exposing him to operating risks, while accruing great financial rewards to himself.”

“The corporate manager who avoids a loss will not often be rewarded.”

Unstable individual and stable collection

“Just as the income of the cab driver shows instability on a daily basis but annual stability, likewise Switzerland shows stability at the aggregate level, as the ensemble of cantons produces a solid system.”

The difference between Human and animals

“The difference between humans and animals lies in the ability to collaborate, engage in business, let ideas, pardon the expression, copulate. Collaboration has explosive upside, what is mathematically called a superadditive function, i.e., one plus one equals more than two, and one plus one plus one equals much, much more than three”

Procrastination and information filtering

“we humans are very bad at filtering information, particularly short-term information, and procrastination can be a way for us to filter better, to resist the consequences of jumping on information”

Antifragility and parenting

“Soccer moms try to eliminate the trial and error, the antifragility, from children’s lives, move them away from the ecological and transform them into nerds working on preexisting (soccer-mom-compatible) maps of reality. Good students, but nerds—that is, they are like computers except slower. Further, they are now totally untrained to handle ambiguity

“we need randomness, mess, adventures, uncertainty, self-discovery, near-traumatic episodes, all these things that make life worth living”

Barbell strategy and professions

“Professions can be serial: something very safe, then something speculative”

“Many of the “doers” turned “thinkers” like Montaigne have done a serial barbell: pure action, then pure reflection.”

“if I have to work, I find it preferable (and less painful) to work intensely for very short hours, then do nothing for the rest of the time (assuming doing nothing is really doing nothing), until I recover completely and look forward to a repetition, rather than being subjected to the tedium of Japanese style low-intensity interminable office hours with sleep deprivation”

“Indeed, Georges Simenon, one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, only wrote sixty days a year, with three hundred days spent “doing nothing.” He published more than two hundred novels.”

Decentralized system and stability

“The risk characteristic of a centralized system is different from that of a messy municipally-led confederation. The second type is stable in the long run because of some dose of volatility.”

Decision and a single reason

“Obvious decisions (robust to error) require no more than a single reason”

Asymmetry and redundancy

“Fat Tony has two heuristics.

First, never get on a plane if the pilot is not on board.

Second, make sure there is also a copilot.

The first heuristic addresses the asymmetry in rewards and punishment, or transfer of fragility between individuals. ”

“The second heuristic is that we need to build redundancy, a margin of safety, avoiding optimization, mitigating (even removing) asymmetries in our sensitivity to risk.”

Focus on payoff of actions

“The need to focus on the payoff from your actions instead of studying the structure of the world (or understanding the “True” and the “False”) has been largely missed in intellectual history. Horribly missed. The payoff, what happens to you (the benefits or harm from it), is always the most important thing, not the event itself.”

Stability and instability

“Time for American policy makers to understand that the more they intervene in other countries for the sake of stability, the more they bring instability (except for emergency-room-style cases).”

“One of life’s packages: no stability without volatility.”

The change of quantity causes the change of quality

“A large state does not behave at all like a gigantic municipality, much as a baby human does not resemble a smaller adult. The difference is qualitative: the increase in the number of persons in a given community alters the quality of the relationship between parties

Time tested diet

“drink no liquid that is not at least a thousand years old—so its fitness has been tested. I drink just wine, water, and coffee. No soft drinks. ”

America vs Japan

“Like Britain in the Industrial Revolution, America’s asset is, simply, risk taking and the use of optionality, this remarkable ability to engage in rational forms of trial and error, with no comparative shame in failing, starting again, and repeating failure. In modern Japan, by contrast, shame comes with failure, which causes people to hide risks under the rug, financial or nuclear, making small benefits while sitting on dynamite, an attitude that strangely contrasts with their traditional respect for fallen heroes and the so-called nobility of failure.”

Antifragility

“anything that has more upside than downside from random events (or certain shocks) is antifragile; the reverse is fragile.”

Fragility, errors, and antifragility

“We can simplify the relationships between fragility, errors, and antifragility as follows. When you are fragile, you depend on things following the exact planned course, with as little deviation as possible—for deviations are more harmful than helpful. This is why the fragile needs to be very predictive in its approach, and, conversely, predictive systems cause fragility. When you want deviations, and you don’t care about the possible dispersion of outcomes that the future can bring, since most will be helpful, you are antifragile.”

the random element in trial and error is not quite random, if it is carried out rationally, using error as a source of information. If every trial provides you with information about what does not work, you start zooming in on a solutionso every attempt becomes more valuable, more like an expense than an error. And of course you make discoveries along the way.”

* How can I be antifragille and use my mistakes as information to improve everything I do? For example, chess.

Fragility, risk and measurement

“It is far easier to figure out if something is fragile than to predict the occurrence of an event that may harm it. Fragility can be measured; risk is not measurable”

Things that like dispersion

“Options like dispersion of outcomes and don’t care about the average too much.”

“males and females have equal intelligence, but the male population has more variations and dispersion (hence volatility), with more highly unintelligent men, and more highly intelligent ones”

“The number of successful scientists depends on the “tails,” the extremes, rather than the average”

growth in society may not come from raising the average the Asian way, but from increasing the number of people in the “tails,” that small, very small number of risk takers crazy enough to have ideas of their own, those endowed with that very rare ability called imagination, that rarer quality called courage, and who make things happen.”

The real victory in life

“Suckers try to win arguments, nonsuckers try to win.”

“opinions and predictions don’t count; surviving is what matters.”

Breaking a fast and hangover

“there is this antifragility to the stressor of the fast, as it makes the wanted food taste better and can produce euphoria in one’s system. Breaking a fast feels like the exact opposite of a hangover

Barbell strategy

“playing it safe in some areas (robust to negative Black Swans) and taking a lot of small risks in others (open to positive Black Swans), hence achieving antifragility. That is extreme risk aversion on one side and extreme risk loving on the other, rather than just the “medium” or the beastly “moderate” risk attitude that in fact is a sucker game (because medium risks can be subjected to huge measurement errors).”

The value of variations

“Variations also act as purges. Small forest fires periodically cleanse the system of the most flammable material, so this does not have the opportunity to accumulate. Systematically preventing forest fires from taking place “to be safe” makes the big one much worse. For similar reasons, stability is not good for the economy: firms become very weak during long periods of steady prosperity devoid of setbacks, and hidden vulnerabilities accumulate silently under the surface—so delaying crises is not a very good idea. Likewise, absence of fluctuations in the market causes hidden risks to accumulate with impunity. The longer one goes without a market trauma, the worse the damage when commotion occurs.”

Absence of instability

“Absence of political instability, even war, lets explosive material and tendencies accumulate under the surface”

How to use your mistakes

“my characterization of a loser is someone who, after making a mistake, doesn’t introspect, doesn’t exploit it, feels embarrassed and defensive rather than enriched with a new piece of information, and tries to explain why he made the mistake rather than moving on”

Antifragility and size

“Small is beautiful in so many other ways. Take for now that the small (in the aggregate, that is, a collection of small units) is more antifragile than the large—in fact the large is doomed to breaking”

Free time and undercompensation

“Most humans manage to squander their free time, as free time makes them dysfunctional, lazy, and unmotivated—the busier they get, the more active they are at other tasks”

* Maybe I should put more productive activities in my calendar?

* Being exceptionally knowledge in the work I am on so that I can save time for other things.

* Focus on wealth creation activities rather than entertainments with no long term benefit.

Redundancy is ambiguous

“Redundancy is ambiguous because it seems like a waste if nothing unusual happens. Except that something unusual happens—usually.”

Nonlinear iatrogenics

“Second principle of iatrogenics: it is not linear. We should not take risks with near-healthy people; but we should take a lot, a lot more risks with those deemed in danger”

Street smart vs book smart

“wisdom you learn from your grandmother should be vastly superior (empirically, hence scientifically) to what you get from a class in business school (and, of course, considerably cheaper)”

Mistakes of others

“So it is often the mistakes of others that benefit the rest of us—and, sadly, not them. We saw that stressors are information, in the right context.”

Antifragility and fasting

“When you starve yourself of food, it is the bad proteins that are broken down first and recycled by your own body—a process called autophagy”

“This is a purely evolutionary process, one that selects and kills the weakest for fitness.”

Complex systems and stressors

“Complex systems are weakened, even killed, when deprived of stressors. Much of our modern, structured, world has been harming us with top-down policies and contraptions”

“This is the tragedy of modernity: as with neurotically overprotective parents, those trying to help are often hurting us the most.”

“If about everything top-down fragilizes and blocks antifragility and growth, everything bottom-up thrives under the right amount of stress and disorder. The process of discovery (or innovation, or technological progress) itself depends on antifragile tinkering, aggressive risk bearing rather than formal education.”

The value of being humble

“Expert problems (in which the expert knows a lot but less than he thinks he does) often bring fragilities, and acceptance of ignorance the reverse”

“When you are fragile you need to know a lot more than when you are antifragile. Conversely, when you think you know more than you do, you are fragile

Information hides failures

“Information has a nasty property: it hides failures”

“So we confuse the necessary and the causal: because all surviving technologies have some obvious benefits, we are led to believe that all technologies offering obvious benefits will survive”

Suppressed volatility and risk visibility

“the problem with artificially suppressed volatility is not just that the system tends to become extremely fragile; it is that, at the same time, it exhibits no visible risks

Black Swan a simple definition

“Black Swans (capitalized) are large-scale unpredictable and irregular events of massive consequence—unpredicted by a certain observer, and such unpredictor is generally called the “turkey” when he is both surprised and harmed by these events. I have made the claim that most of history comes from Black Swan events, while we worry about fine-tuning our understanding of the ordinary, and hence develop models, theories, or representations that cannot possibly track them or measure the possibility of these shocks.”

Business drift

“For an illustration of business drift, rational and opportunistic business drift, take the following. Coca-Cola began as a pharmaceutical product. Tiffany & Co., the fancy jewelry store company, started life as a stationery store.”

Optionality and open ended pay off

“(i) Look for optionality; in fact, rank things according to optionality, (ii) preferably with open-ended, not closed-ended, payoffs; (iii) Do not invest in business plans but in people, so look for someone capable of changing six or seven times over his career, or more (an idea that is part of the modus operandi of the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen); one gets immunity from the backfit narratives of the business plan by investing in people. It is simply more robust to do so; (iv) Make sure you are barbelled, whatever that means in your business.”

Concrete, anecdotes, sensational and emotion

“We humans scorn what is not concrete. We are more easily swayed by a crying baby than by thousands of people dying elsewhere that do not make it to our living room through the TV set. The one case is a tragedy, the other a statistic. Our emotional energy is blind to probability.”

“The media make things worse as they play on our infatuation with anecdotes, our thirst for the sensational, and they cause a great deal of unfairness that way. At the present time, one person is dying of diabetes every seven seconds, but the news can only talk about victims of hurricanes with houses flying in the air”

Black swan and size of corporation

“Corporations that are large today should be gone, as they have always been weakened by what they think is their strength: size, which is the enemy of corporations as it causes disproportionate fragility to Black Swans

“City-states and small corporations are more likely to be around, even thrive. The nation-state, the currency-printing central bank, these things called economics departments, may stay nominally, but they will have their powers severely eroded”

Theroies and practice

“we don’t put theories into practice. We create theories out of practice”

Supressed volatility and the middle east

“Clearly the “alliance” between the Saudi royal family and the United States was meant to provide stability.”

“Few people are aware of the fact that the bitterness of Iranians toward the United States comes from the fact that the United States—a democracy—installed a monarch, the repressive Shah of Iran, who pillaged the place but gave the United States the “stability” of access to the Persian Gulf. The theocratic regime in Iran today is largely the result of such repression. We need to learn to think in second steps, chains of consequences, and side effects.”

Procrastination as a natural defense

“Few understand that procrastination is our natural defense, letting things take care of themselves and exercise their antifragility”

“by delaying a non-vital visit to a doctor, or deferring the writing of a passage until my body tells me that I am ready for it, I may be using a very potent naturalistic filter. I write only if I feel like it and only on a subject I feel like writing about—and the reader is no fool. So I use procrastination as a message from my inner self and my deep evolutionary past to resist interventionism in my writing”

* When should I act and when should I procrastinate?

Doers, marketers and survivors

“the most underestimated argument in favor of free enterprise and a society driven by individual doers, what Adam Smith called “adventurers,” not central planners and bureaucratic apparatuses. We saw that bureaucrats (whether in government or large corporations) live in a system of rewards based on narratives, “tawk,” and the opinion of others, with job evaluation and peer reviews—in other words, what we call marketing

the biological world evolves by survival, not opinions and “I predicted” and “I told you so.” Evolution dislikes the confirmation fallacy, endemic in society.”

Change vs importance

“we notice change, not statics”

We notice what varies and changes more than what plays a large role but doesn’t change. We rely more on water than on cell phones but because water does not change and cell phones do, we are prone to thinking that cell phones play a larger role than they do”

Fragile individual and antifragile collection

“The fragility of every startup is necessary for the economy to be antifragile, and that’s what makes, among other things, entrepreneurship work: the fragility of individual entrepreneurs and their necessarily high failure rate”

“So antifragility gets a bit more intricate—and more interesting—in the presence of layers and hierarchies. A natural organism is not a single, final unit; it is composed of subunits and itself may be the subunit of some larger collective. These subunits may be contending with each other.

"Take another business example. Restaurants are fragile; they compete with each other, but the collective of local restaurants is antifragile for that very reason. Had restaurants been individually robust, hence immortal, the overall business would be either stagnant or weak, and would deliver nothing better than cafeteria food—and I mean Soviet-style cafeteria food. Further, it would be marred with systemic shortages, with, once in a while, a complete crisis and government bailout. All that quality, stability, and reliability are owed to the fragility of the restaurant itself.”

“So some parts on the inside of a system may be required to be fragile in order to make the system antifragile as a result. Or the organism itself might be fragile, but the information encoded in the genes reproducing it will be antifragile.”

Regeneration, tinkering, trial and error

“Mother Nature is not just “safe.” It is aggressive in destroying and replacing, in selecting and reshuffling”

“Given the unattainability of perfect robustness, we need a mechanism by which the system regenerates itself continuously by using, rather than suffering from, random events, unpredictable shocks, stressors, and volatility.”

many things that gain from randomness should be dominating the world today—and things that are hurt by it should be gone”

“Technology is the result of antifragility, exploited by risk-takers in the form of tinkering and trial and error, with nerd-driven design confined to the backstage. Engineers and tinkerers develop things while history books are written by academics”

Randomness and illusion of life

“the central illusion in life: that randomness is risky,”

Frequency of stressors

“The frequency of stressors matters a bit. Humans tend to do better with acute than with chronic stressors, particularly when the former are followed by ample time for recovery, which allows the stressors to do their jobs as messengers.”

* No wonder Wim Hof doesn't always expose himself in snow naked.

Antifragility and layer competition

“antifragility in biology works thanks to layers. This rivalry between suborganisms contributes to evolution: cells within our bodies compete; within the cells, proteins compete, all the way through.”

“For the economy to be antifragile and undergo what is called evolution, every single individual business must necessarily be fragile, exposed to breaking—evolution needs organisms (or their genes) to die when supplanted by others, in order to achieve improvement, or to avoid reproduction when they are not as fit as someone else”