The Tinkerers, the Hobbyists, and the Risk-Takers

This is from an interview with Nassim Talib on his anti-fragility thesis:

How would you make something antifragile?

If antifragility is the property of all these natural complex systems that have survived, then depriving them of volatility,randomness and stressors will harm them. Just as spending a month in bed leads to muscle atrophy, complex systems are weakened or even killed when  deprived of stressors.

If you want to move away from fragility, you must avoid centralisation and debt and foster aggressive risk-takers who are willing to fail seven times in a lifetime. The economy of the west was initiated through trial and error. We still have a pocket of that in California, where there are small costs of failure and big gains once in a while. The top-down approach blocks antifragility and growth, whereas everything bottom-up thrives under the right amount of stress and disorder.

Are you saying that capitalism is good, but that 21st-century capitalism has gone too far?

What we do today has nothing to do with capitalism or socialism. It is a crony type of system that transfers money to the coffers of bureaucrats. The largest “fragiliser” of society is a lack of skin in the game. If you are mayor of a small town, you are penalised for your mistakes because you are made accountable when you go to church. But we are witnessing the rise of a new class of inverse heroes – bureaucrats, bankers, and academics with too much power.

They game the system while citizens pay the price. I want the entrepreneur to be respected, not the CEO of a company who has all the upsides and none of the downsides.

There are plenty of open-minded individuals who weren’t upset by what I said. This coming book will upset bureaucrats and academics - academics because I suggest trial and error is superior to knowledge. The process of discovery, innovation, or technological progress depends on antifragile tinkering and aggressive risk-bearing, rather than education. A country’s assets reside in the tinkerers, the hobbyists and the risk-takers.

It is important to think of the consequences of a society where the rewards go those without skin in the game in some way.