Now for reasons that have to do with the increase of the artificial, the move away from ancestral and natural models, and the loss in robustness owing to complications in the design of everything, the role of Black Swans is increasing. Further, we are victims to a new disease, called in this book neomania, that makes us build Black Swan–vulnerable systems—“progress.”
An annoying aspect of the Black Swan problem—in fact the central, and largely missed, point—is that the odds of rare events are simply not computable. We know a lot less about hundred-year floods than five-year floods—model error swells when it comes to small probabilities. The rarer the event, the less tractable, and the less we know about how frequent its occurrence—yet the rarer the event, the more confident these “scientists” involved in predicting, modeling, and using PowerPoint in conferences with equations in multicolor background have become.
It is of great help that Mother Nature—thanks to its antifragility—is the best expert at rare events, and the best manager of Black Swans; in its billions of years it succeeded in getting here without much command-and-control instruction from an Ivy League–educated director nominated by a search committee.
In the long run everything with the most minute vulnerability breaks, given the ruthlessness of time—yet our planet has been around for perhaps four billion years and, convincingly, robustness can’t just be it: you need perfect robustness for a crack not to end up crashing the system.