Nassim Taleb's commencement speech at the AUB in 2016

    Taleb is controversial indeed but he does not deal much bullshit. Here's an excerpt from his commencement speech at the American University of Beirut in 2016. 

    I hesitate to give advice because every major single piece of advice I was given turned out to be wrong and I am glad I didn’t follow them. I was told to focus and I never did. I was told to never procrastinate and I waited 20 years for The Black Swan and it sold 3 million copies. I was told to avoid putting fictional characters in my books and I did put in Nero Tulip and Fat Tony because I got bored otherwise. I was told to not insult the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal; the more I insulted them the nicer they were to me and the more they solicited Op-Eds. I was told to avoid lifting weights for a back pain and became a weightlifter: never had a back problem since.

    If I had to relive my life I would be even more stubborn and uncompromising than I have been.

    For example: Let’s assume the sole information I have about a gentleman is that he is 40 years old, and I want to predict how long he will live. I can look at actuarial tables and find his age-adjusted life expectancy as used by insurance companies. The table will predict he has an extra 44 years to go; next year, when he turns 41, he will have a little more than 43 years to go. For a perishable human, every year that elapses reduces his life expectancy by a little less than a year. The opposite applies to non-perishables like technology and information. If a book has been in print for 40 years, I can expect it to be in print for at least another 40 years. But – and this is the main difference – if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another 50 years.
    Technology “ages” backwards, from Nassim Taleb’s new book “Antifragile”. An interesting perspective.