Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: A Crazier Future

The author of Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan speaking at a Long Now Foundation event. Fresh and irreverent as ever.

The runtime is about 90 minutes, but it's a good overview of the key concepts in The Black Swan, if you haven't had time to read the book. The parable of the turkey is particularly humorous, but makes an important point: intentions that we infer from previous events that may tend to confirm a belief, may actually be the opposite of what we believe. As Taleb's story goes, by virtue of the farmer showing up every day and feeding the turkey, the turkey's trust grows more each day that he is loved and cared for, right up until the hatchet falls. Another good takeaway: don't confuse infrequency with randomness. There's nothing random about market crashes, terrorist attacks, great fires, wars, earthquakes, etc., as they are, in effect, planned or conditions-based. The normal distribution (bell curve) doesn't apply to them, yet we insist on assuming that it does, and often to our peril.

Click here to see the video.

As Yogi Berra said, "The future ain't what it used to be."