Tiimiakatemia on Jyväskylän Ammattikorkeakoulun yrittäjyyden huippuyksikkö

Antifragile

Kirjoitettu 10.11.15
Esseen kirjoittaja: Aleksi Halsas
Kirjapisteet: 2
Kirja: Antifragile; Things that gain from disorder
Kirjan kirjoittaja: Nassim Taleb
Kategoriat: 9. YPK:n ulkopuoliset

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Antifragility

The main concept in the book is antifragility. The opposite of fragile is usually interpreted as robust, but that is the equilevant to saying opposite of negative is neutral. The opposite of fragile is antifragile, something that gains from disorder or to simplify it, something that gains from stressors. Our body is perfect example from antifragility, for example our skeletal system, your bones become denser and stronger the more you put them under stressors. Of course there is always the thin line between optimal load and too much load. In this case using optimal load would mean loading your bones just as much as they can take and recover from, without braking them. If you load the bones too much they will break, but what is important to note is that even after breaking a bone, when the bone ossifys it will be stronger than before you broke it. So loading yourself too much simply means you will need longer recovery than usual, which will be suboptimal for improvement, but way better than not doing anything.

This concept is not anything new in sports or in the field of exercise in general, but if you discuss the concept on the subject of health it becomes a lot more complex. The western medicine in general doesnt accept the concept and tries to treat everything from headache to cancer and usually ends up just treating the result, not the real reason behind it. Holistic health is rising tremendously as a part of the health field and I would say that experts on that field agree with this concept, even if they havent heard of it before. So it is still a bit underground but not that far away from mainstream. But if we go to the level of society, where the concept can also be implemented it is completely against 99,9% of the experts opinion, from my understanding.

The most basic argument from Nassim Taleb is that we need certain amount of randomness to keep something antifragile and if we eliminate randomness completely we make it fragile. Good example from this is the crisis that started in 2008 from the subprime morgage market and the way federal reserve in the us handled the situation. They didnt let the system collapse, but they started saving the banks and pumping air back in to the balloon that just bursted. Resulting in the wellfare state of the banks. Okay, the thing is not that simple since the mistakes that has made the system fragile are made decades ago, but we are making it more fragile all the time. Also something that Nassim Taleb points out is that the bigger something gets the more fragile it becomes and to prove this statement he points out the obvious. If company worth 100 million goes down 20% on the stock market the result will be 20 million in losses. If a company worth 1 million goes down it will result in 200 000 in losses. The real difference is that the company worth 1 million can probably handle the losses, but for the company worth 100 million the losses are a lot harder to handle, usually almost impossible.

Green lumber

What information is really important and what not, is the topic that is very much linked to randomness and maybe the most fascinating and eye opening idea in the work of Nassim Taleb. Correlation does not imply causation is maybe the premise needed to understod before even talking about statistics, randomness and information in general. Even if two variables correlate with each other it doesnt mean that one of them causes the other. Most of the things that we think are causations are really just correlations. To be sure there is causation we would need to understand the mechanism completely, if we dont we cant be sure of it.

Taking this to a practical level that affects my own life is really facinating. When I’m observing different informations about the market and see correlation I usually end up taking it as causation quite quickly. I would really have to be expert on a field to determine if its really causation, so probably my best bet is to bet on randomness and try to learn to determine fragility for randomness in different subjects. Bitcoin is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about something that gains from disorder, completely decentralised, operating completely on free market rules, so fluctuating quite a lot, but in the longer perspective maybe even antifragile. Though if you look at the history, which is the best tool to predict the future, you can point out that bitcoin is relatively new technology so it is relatively unlikely that it will be still working in 20 years. Compared to for example british pound that has a lot longer history. Though british bound has no real potential for growth compared to bitcoin.

Bullshit rule

Nassim Taleb argues that 99,5% of daily information is just noise that has no relevance. So if you are following news everyday you have to be godlike at filtering information or you will catch mostly nonsense. When we take a look at longer time perspectives the rate will get better. On a monthly scale it could be like 90% bullshit 10% information, when talking in years it is pretty much 50/50. In the 50/50 situation it is much easier to sort out the bullshit from the real information, even tough it can still be difficult. As I tought about this subject some more I realised I consume way too much noise. I check facebook once every 30 minutes or so I assume, it is 99,99% nonsense. Also I have started to realise when reflecting the past year due to Rohkeat Tekijät- program that I have a lot of information in my head that I have still yet to put to use in practice and reading and consuming more information can be even distracting. This brings to mind a quote from Ido Portal:

”Information is toxic and addictive, we run after it, we have this thirst for information but at a certain point it turns on you, it paralyzes you, it freezes you up and it doesnt allow you to apply and learn.”

In a way I feel like I went to overboard with information last spring and even last summer trough podcasts. I scratched the surface on a lot of topics, but didnt really mine into anything deebly. I didnt get personal experience from the subjects I read. I read Lean startup, but was unable to use the information to my advantage. Now it is starting to get to use trough the help of Kasvun Portaat- program I feel like, but there is still a long way to go.

I would like to end this text paraphrasing Elliott Hulse, he once said something like this:

”If you are teaching something that you have no first hand experience about you are really not a teacher, you are just a taperecording repeating something you have heard somewhere. 

It is an interesting idea and during the last few months I have started to realise the difference between taperecording and teacher. The difference is huge in the end, but sometimes maybe even hard to realise to begin with.

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