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1/n: “Everything gains or loses from volatility. Fragility is what loses from volatility and uncertainty.”

Had 4-5 uninterrupted flight hours this Friday. Re-read #Antifragile by @nntaleb. So here’re some nuggets/quotes/insights from one of my favorite books. #TweetThread 👇🏼
2: Some things seem to improve if they are placed in environments of volatility and unpredictability. ‘Antifragile’ analyzes why this is the case. It suggests that this quality has been vital for the progress of human civilization since ancient times.
3: Taleb describes that something is antifragile when it gets better with chaos, disorder, and time whereas anything fragile hates volatility.

Nature is the ultimate example of something antifragile as it can adapt and gets stronger with difficult times.
4: Forecasts, predictions, and the desire to be too precise are all examples that cause fragility.The largest source of fragility: ' absence of skin in the game'.

Everything that has life in it is to some extent antifragile.
5: Tranquil environments result in fragile systems – antifragility stems from volatility. Antifragility is typically found in natural, or biological, systems. Most man-made items cannot be antifragile as they cannot self-improve based on failures or unexpected stressors.
6: Society places far too much value on theoretical knowledge and not nearly enough on practical knowledge. We assume that the former inevitably leads to the latter, though, in fact, the two are completely separate. Knowing why planes fly does not make you a qualified pilot.
7: To become antifragile, manage your risks so you can benefit from unpredictable events. “Domesticate” the uncertainty, rather than avoid or eliminate it.

Information is antifragile: it benefits more from attempts to harm it than efforts to promote it.
8: Anything that has more upside than downside during random events has antifragility. Moving towards simplicity and removing things makes things more antifragile than adding anything.

Evolution one of the best examples of antifragility.
9: Central illusion in life – randomness is risky. Man-made smoothing of randomness makes things more fragile. Daily variability helps strengthen a person or system.

Time is the world's best debunker of fragility.
10: Extremely important to try to differentiate between true and manufactured stability. Turkey problem:– mistaking what we don’t see for the nonexistent.

Exposure is more important than knowledge. Do, rather than just learn.
11: Complex systems are often more fragile but regardless simplicity is key. You are antifragile when you have more to gain than lose from volatility – more upside than downside. First, decrease your exposure to the downside. Complex systems have many interdependencies.
12: Tinkering and iterations are much more antifragile than blueprints and hard plans. When you find antifragile options, there are hidden benefits and therefore the need to be right less often (compared to linear payoffs) can still wind up on top.
13: Robust decisions rarely require more than one good reason. The man with the most alibis is usually guilty. In addition, a man should be known for one great idea. The longest surviving works are the most robust as time devours everything, esp. the fragile first.
14: Perishable v nonperishable – for perishable, younger expected to live longer but for non-perishable the older can be expected to live longer.

Established tech is more likely to outlive new tech.
15: There is logic in nature much deeper than we can often understand. Via negativa – Subtracting things not seasoned by nature reduces the chances of black swans while leaving one open to improvements. For example, eating less extends lives and avoiding new foods and sugars.
16: Longer-term forecast is most prone to error and exponentially so compared to the short term. Any reliance on predictions is fragile. Respect and consume the wisdom of our ancestors – philosophy, food, tools, etc.
17: Antifragility helps understand fragility better. Absence of skin in the game is truly hurting the antifragile systems since people can get the upside without any of the downside and exposing others.
18: Injecting randomness strengthens systems. In anything and with anyone – light control works but tight control leads to more crashes.
19: Don’t know what type of person someone is until they’re given the option to do something immoral. He who has never sinned is less reliable than he who has only sinned once.
20: Switzerland is the most antifragile place in the world and benefits tremendously when others are hurt or in a panic. It is stable because of the mix of people but mainly because of its lack of a large central government – very few citizens could name its president.
21: Wisdom in making decisions is vastly more important than knowledge. When possible, try to bet against those who rely on predictions. Excess wealth if you don’t need it is a burden.
22: Stoicism is extremely robust. Possessions make us worry about the downside and make us fragile. Mentally adjust for the worst before it happens and everything positive from then on will seem like a bonus. Stoicism about the domestication and not the elimination of emotions.
23: Stoicism makes you desire the challenge of a calamity. And Stoics look down on luxury: about a fellow who led a lavish life, Seneca wrote: "He is in debt, whether he borrowed from another person or from fortune."
24: Freedom, independence and options is the ultimate trifecta. A truly free man can voice his own opinions.
25: Randomness plays two roles – innovation and implementation. Every trial and every failure provides more information into the right direction to go. Up to you to act rationally and to recognize the options.
26: Future lies in the past – technology replacing itself and getting us back to the way we used to do things.
27: People notice change much more than what is static and do not easily take into account the failed endeavors – making success seem easier than it actually is since losing examples are gone and hard to come by.
28: We only understand risks after they happen but continually make the mistake of thinking we can manage risk. The risks come from what we cannot see. A margin of safety should be built into every decision.

Beware those who explain anything after the fact.
29: Every risk-taker needs to have some skin in the game – "Hammurabi’s code. No opinion without risk." This is becoming rare in today’s world where bankers and politicians can make decisions which affect millions but they themselves don’t pay if they’re wrong.
30: Some jobs and professions are fragile - like a mid-level bank employee with a mortgage, while others are antifragile, like writers/artists. Heuristic: those who dress outrageously are robust or antifragile, those who dress in a suit/tie are fragile to information about them.
31: What kills me makes others stronger: The fragility of every startup is necessary for the economy to be antifragile, and that’s what makes (among other things) entrepreneurship work: i.e. the fragility of individual entrepreneurs and their necessarily high failure rate.
32: To entrepreneurs: “Most of you will fail, disrespected, impoverished, but we are grateful for the risks you are taking & sacrifices you are making for the sake of the economic growth of the planet and pulling others out of poverty. You are at the source of our antifragility.”
33: The longer one goes without a market trauma, the worse the damage when commotion occurs. A donkey equally famished & thirsty caught at an equal distance between food & water would inevitably die of hunger or thirst. But he can be saved by a random nudge one way or the other.
34: Fragilistas: 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.
35: Never marry the rock star: The step 1 toward antifragility consists in first decreasing downside, rather than increasing upside; that is, by lowering exposure to negative Black Swans and letting natural antifragility work by itself.
36: If you "have optionality," you don’t have much need for what is commonly called intelligence, knowledge, insight, skills, and these complicated things that take place in our brain cells. For you don’t have to be right that often.
37: Option = asymmetry + rationality.

The rationality part lies in keeping what is good and ditching the bad, knowing to take the profits. All you need is the wisdom to not do unintelligent things to hurt yourself and recognize favorable outcomes when they occur.
38: 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; one gets immunity from the backfit narratives of the business plan by investing in people. It is simply more robust to do so.
39: “Never cross a river that is, on average, four feet deep.” Textbook “knowledge" misses a dimension, the hidden asymmetry of benefits—just like the notion of average. The payoff, what happens to you, is always the most important thing, not the event itself.
40: Charlatans will give you 'only' positive advice. Yet 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.

The learning of life is about what to avoid.
41: Knowledge grows by subtraction much more than by addition. Obvious decisions (robust to error) require no more than a single reason.
42: “A philosopher should be known for one single idea, not more”

Heuristic: “if someone has a long bio, I skip him.”
43: Technology is at its best when it is invisible. Technology is of greatest benefit when it displaces the deleterious, unnatural, alienating, and, most of all, inherently fragile preceding technology.
44: The nonperishable is anything that does not have an organic unavoidable expiration date. 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.
45: Lindy effect: So the longer a technology lives, the longer it can be expected to live. If a book has been in print for forty years, we can expect it to be in print for another forty years. Humans die, but their genes—a code—do not necessarily die.
46: Never ask anyone for their opinion, forecast, or recommendation. Just ask them what they have—or don’t have—in their portfolio. Never ask the doctor what you should do. Ask him what he would do if he were in your place. You would be surprised at the difference.
47: If you need something done, give it to the busiest person.

Greed is antifragile—though not its victims.
48: And last, to put in Fat Tony terms: “Suckers try to be right, non-suckers try to make the buck, or: Suckers try to win arguments, non-suckers try to win.”

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