The book was reviewed by Michiko Kakutani who explains why it is so unreadable. It is merely a good article added to a very long rant.
Talib’s thesis is original and imaginative. He argues that our society and we as individuals are constantly barraged by unknowable large disruptions and shocks.
We try to cope with these shocks by making our objects and institutions more robust. He says robust is the wrong direction to go … anti-fragile is right.
By anti-fragile he means that new shocks and stresses should enhance the response rather than result in damage and harm. We all have the 2008 stock market crash in mind.
The most vivid institutional form of anti-fragility is evolution. Humans gain bone and muscular strength from stress and constant use. Our antibody system also gains effectiveness by exposure to stress and shock. The modern use of vaccines is an antifragile solution.
We have a few institutions that benefit from stress and shock. The prime example is the NTSB, the agency that investigates airplane accidents and introduces air safety improvements. The safety record of airlines has been steadily improving for a century.
In the instance of automobile safety, the initial improvements came from technological change in the automobiles. The remaining improvements occurred because state legislatures began changing the driving requirements for people from age 16 to 21. In my lifetime automobile deaths have dropped to one third.
Anti-fragile is a very interesting and important concept. You now know it so be grateful to Talib and think more about it on your own.