Black Swan Author In Tdad Nov 5

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the Lebanese American philosopher, essayist, statistician, and bestselling author (The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness) will be a keynote speaker at the TTCSI National Services Week Event on November 5th 2011.
Taleb rose to international prominence after the 2008 global economic collapse for the accuracy and insight in his book The Black Swan.
Initially, when he said the world’s economy was heading for disaster, he was scorned. After the collapse, traders, economists, even NASA, have been clamouring to hear him speak.
The 51 year-old essayist has been writing on the problems of randomness and probability. He is a bestselling author and has been a professor at several universities, currently at Polytechnic Institute of New York University and Oxford University. He is also a practitioner of mathematical finance, has been a hedge fund manager, a Wall Street trader and is currently a scientific adviser.
His 2007 book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable was described in a review by Sunday Times as one of the twelve most influential books since World War II. It attracted attention for saying, among many other things, that “most economists, and almost all bankers, are subhuman and very, very dangerous. They live in a fantasy world in which the future can be controlled by sophisticated mathematical models and elaborate risk-management systems”.
Predictably, bankers and economists raged at Taleb, accusing him of simply not understanding their world.
A few months later, as the full global implications of the sub-prime-driven credit crunch became clear, Taleb became one of the most sought-after thinkers. “It was my greatest vindication. But to me that wasn’t a black swan; it was a white swan. I knew it would happen and I said so,” he said. He also made a lot of money by investing in anticipation of a financial crash.
Taleb believes that the world is random, intrinsically unknowable. “You will never,” he says, “be able to control randomness.”
To explain his terminology: black swans were discovered in Australia. Before that, any reasonable person could assume the all-swans-are-white theory was unassailable. But the sight of just one black swan debunked that theory. In Taleb’s view, every theory about the human world and about the future is vulnerable to the black swan, his metaphor for the unexpected event.
“The world we live in is vastly different from the world we think we live in,” he argues.
He advocates the “black swan robust” society, meaning a society capable of withstanding difficult-to-predict events. He favours “stochastic tinkering” as a method of scientific discovery, by which he means experimentation and fact-collecting instead of top-down directed research.
Taleb is now one of the most in-demand thinkers in the world with a reputation as a distinctive personality: He has rules. He warns against people wearing ties. He doesn’t usually carry his BlackBerry because he hates distraction and he really hates phone charges. But he does carry an Apple laptop everywhere and constantly uses it to illustrate complex points and seek out references. He reads for 60 hours a week, but almost never a newspaper, and never watches television.
He is scheduled to speak at the TTCSI event on Saturday 5th November, 2011. Ticketing information is available at www.ttcsi.org.
—By Florence Louis Edouard

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