Antifragile vs Resilience

I finally understand Nassim Taleb’s antifragile concept:

  • Fragile: Concave response to stress.
  • Robust: Neutral response to stress.
  • Resilient: Recovers in response to stress.
  • Antifragile: Convex response to stress.

This diagram originally by Bilgin Ibryam does a better job. It was recently redrawn by me for the purpose of learning thru scribing.

Bilgin Ibryam via Redhat

The software industry has found relevance to this concept. And I was happy to find the link to open source (this term was coined by Christine Peterson):

We might equate the Cathedral to Taleb’s office worker, and the Bazaar to his taxi driver.  The taxi driver makes decisions every day about where to find the next fare; he must flex within his market. The office worker may lose his job and his employability with a single bad performance review, and recovery will be much harder.  Traditional software engineering is like that: built with one purpose in mind, inflexible to change.   And so our systems are fragile; they break as requirements change, and don’t recover easily.

also the agile movement:

To me, the fundamentals to becoming antifragile are these tenets: prioritize adapting to change, choose the potential high-upside work, avoid intervening where you don’t need to, and structure around skin in the game.

Plus the Lindy Effect seems to validate all this, too.

The Lindy effect is a concept that the future life expectancy of some non-perishable things like a technology or an idea is proportional to their current age, so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy.

In the Wikipedia article, Nasim Taleb is referenced:

If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. But, and that is the main difference, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years. This, simply, as a rule, tells you why things that have been around for a long time are not “aging” like persons, but “aging” in reverse. Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy. This is an indicator of some robustness. The robustness of an item is proportional to its life!

This feels a bit like the opposite of Moore’s law. Hmmmm. –JM

This related diagram by Undercurrent is quite pretty and relevant to this topic: