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This page contains all of the posts and discussion on MemeStreams referencing the following web page: The Reverse Black Swan. You can find discussions on MemeStreams as you surf the web, even if you aren't a MemeStreams member, using the Threads Bookmarklet.

The Reverse Black Swan
by noteworthy at 9:00 pm EDT, Apr 19, 2009

Michael Mandel on Nassim Taleb:

The invention of the Internet was a reverse Black Swan—unexpected, extreme impact, and inevitable in retrospect. More generally, the positive Black Swans are the technological innovations which could not have been anticipated ahead of time, and which work so well that we have experienced 200 years of rising living standards, despite the downward Malthusian pressure.

Because technological innovation really is fundamentally unpredictable, increasing the amount spent on R&D and innovation does not lead to diversification and a reduction of uncertainty.

Taleb wrote: "The American economy has leveraged itself heavily on the idea generation."

1) Unexpected technological breakthroughs are possible. That's good.

2) The timing and nature of the breakthroughs cannot be controlled. That's bad.

3) Unexpected large bad events are possible as well. That's bad. In fact, we can get bad events which have as big an impact, in the negative direction, as the technological innovations.

Says Ratbert:

"I'm more of an idea rat."

The Horror, The Horror:

Owner: Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse!

Homer: [worried] Ooooh, that's bad.

Owner: But it comes with a free Frogurt!

Homer: [relieved] That's good.

Owner: The Frogurt is also cursed.

Homer: [worried] That's bad.

Owner: But you get your choice of topping!

Homer: [relieved] That's good.

Owner: The toppings contain Potassium Benzoate.

Homer: [stares]

Owner: That's bad.

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