Alberto's weekly email: Antifragility, Passwords and more!  🚀

Hi All!

What I am reading 📚

Similar to a month ago, this week, rather than reading a new book I took an old book and re-read it. I find that there’s something special about reading the same book for the second, or third time. Great books are an endless fountain of wisdom and interesting concepts.

The book in question is Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. This is perhaps the book that has impacted me the most in the last 10 years and changed my way of thinking about complex systems.

At the core of the book is the concept of antifragility itself: “Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. This property is behind everything that has changed with time: evolution, culture, ideas, revolutions, political systems, technological innovation, cultural and economic success, corporate survival, good recipes (say, chicken soup or steak tartare with a drop of cognac), the rise of cities, cultures, legal systems, equatorial forests, bacterial resistance… Even our own existence as a species on this planet. And antifragility determines the boundary between what is living and organic (or complex), say, the human body, and what is inert, say, a physical object like the stapler on your desk.”

Nerd Corner (Passwords!) 🤓

Unless you have been living like a hermit in some remote part of the world, chances are that in the past months you’ve had to change your password “for security reasons”. And, if you access your bank accounts and other sensitive information from your phone or laptop, you are probably used to receiving emails or text messages with random codes to verify your identity every time you log in.

While I understand that companies are trying to get better at keeping your data secure (and programs and hackers are getting better at cracking passwords and uncovering security issues), it is very tedious to constantly check your phone before accessing your accounts. On top of this, it turns out that receiving these codes over text messages is not very secure.

So, I decided to experiment with alternative methods. There are a few open source apps, like FreeOTP that offer the same “two-factor” authentication process as text messages but are supposed to be safer (it is harder to intercept the communication). Other alternatives are dedicated security keys such as the Yubico. The keys are supposed to be the safest option but require you to have the key physically plugged to the device you are using. This is the method that I have been using for a few weeks now and I find it less intrusive than constantly pulling out my phone in order to do some work!

Also interesting 🤯

  • Taleb and Kahneman (of Behavioral Economics fame) discuss antifragility.

  • In this video Francois Chollet (an AI research working at Google) discusses the current and future trends of the field. This is a must watch! 🤖

  • English is a weird language. But most of us non-native speakers already knew this 😉.

Feedback 🚀

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Have an awesome week!