Why Things are Fragile

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I really like this observation by Nassim Taleb. It might be called the “paradox of scientific progress”: the more we understand and control, the more we unleash that we don’t understand or control. Here’s Taleb (emphasis mine):

“Man-made complex systems tend to develop cascades and runaway chains of reactions that decrease, even eliminate, predictability and cause outsized events. So the modern world may be increasing in technological knowledge, but, paradoxically, it is making things a lot more unpredictable.”

Related (and this, incidentally, is the fundamental reality that informs Antifragile):

“[A]s societies gain in complexity, with more and more ‘cutting edge’ sophistication in them, and more and more specialization, they become increasingly vulnerable to collapse.”

And no, Taleb has no confidence that the Bernankes of the world can technologize our way through fundamental economic mistakes.

We can, however, cover up our mistakes by fabricating the need for foreign wars and distracting the populace from the central government’s screw-ups.