Speaker's Profile

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Nassim N. Taleb

Bestselling Author of The Black Swan, Trader, Philosopher, Expert on Risk and Uncertainty, and Flâneur

The world’s foremost thinker on probability and uncertainty.

Highlights

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to immersing himself in problems of luck, randomness, human error, probability, and the philosophy of knowledge. He transformed his interests into three successful careers—as a man of letters, a businessman-trader-risk manager, and a university professor.

Although he spends most of his time as a flâneur, meditating in cafés across the planet, he is currently Distinguished Professor at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute and Principal of Universa Investments LP.

His books, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan have been published in 31 languages with more than 3 million copies in print. The Black Swan idea is currently inspiring research papers in philosophy, statistics, psychology, economics, medical research, epidemiology, political science, and engineering.

  • Taleb specializes in uncertainty and errors in human knowledge, teaching us how to deal with unpredictability.
  • He is one of the few people who can both walk the walk and talk the talk. He both predicted the economic crisis and made a personal fortune out of it.
  • He specializes in making a living out of human’s misunderstanding of uncertainty.
  • A polymath, he taught in fields so far apart as the psychology of uncertainty and human error, and the mathematics of finance.

Nassim’s newest book, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms, takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a cruel owner of a small estate who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. This collection of aphorisms expresses Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristic side effects—for example, modifying humans to satisfy technology, inventing diseases to sell drugs or blaming reality for not fitting economic models.

Accolades for Nassim N. Taleb

“Imagine someone with the erudition of Pico de la Mirandola, the skepticism of Montaigne and a solid mathematical training, restless globetrotter, polyglot, enjoyer of fine wines, specialist of financial derivatives, irrepressible reader, and irascible to the point of readily slapping an erring disciple.” – La Tribune (Paris)

“Charismatic” – Times

“Idiosyncratically brilliant.” – Niall Ferguson, Los Angeles Times

“Now the hottest thinker in the world” – Sunday Times

“The most prophetic voice of all” – GQ

“Taleb not only has an explanation for [the economic crisis], he saw it coming.” – David Brooks, The New York Times

Books by Nassim N. Taleb

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable*

A worldwide bestseller, named by the Times as one of the 12 most influential books since the Second World War.

“A book that may change the way you think about the world.” – Amazon.com
*Note: The second edition of The Black Swan, with a new essay — “On Robustness and Fragility” — is now available.

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Live and in the Markets

“One of the smartest books of all time” – Fortune

“An articulate, wise, and humorous meditation on the nature of success and failure that anyone who wants a little more of the former would do well to consider.” – Amazon.com

Topic

  • Robustness to Black Swan Risks

Presentations

Taleb speaks on a wide variety of provocative, fascinating, and entertaining issues, including:

1) The Black Swan – Living with the Highly Improbable

  • What are Black Swan Events?
  • The role of Black Swan Events in history, technology, and economic life
  • How to avoid being the turkey
  • Counterintuitive aspects of innovation and discovery
  • How we should plan
  • How reading the newspapers degrades your intellect and weakens your knowledge
  • Why what we worry about is usually not what we should worry about—how our risk evaluation is biased by the sensational
  • Which economic systems can accommodate Black Swans—and where we will be going
  • Where are the faux-experts?
  • What we should predict and not predict

2) How We Are Fooled by Randomness

  • Same subject area as The Black Swan presentation but with a focus on errors made in not distinguishing skill from luck
  • Discussions about the psychology of uncertainty

3) Robustness and Risk Management

  • A more technical lecture for financial institutions

Credentials

  • Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering, New York University Poly Institute
  • Distinguished Scholar, Said School of Business, Oxford University
  • Principal, Universa Investments
  • MBA, Wharton School
  • PhD, MS, BS, University of Paris (formerly the Sorbonne)

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