The (Anti)fragility of Work

I have been drawing a kind of spiritual strength from Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile. Taleb’s technical interest is the relationship between volatility and non-linearity. His philosophical interest is in the nature of randomness. His domains of interest are finance, philosophy, medicine, technological growth – basically things subject to convexity effects.

Work (by which I mean the system of industrial employment, and the systems built on that model) is fragile. In trying to be ‘future’-ready (in skills, in graduates, and otherwise), are we not actually fragilizing our system even further?

More pressingly, what is the arbitrage here?

What is the best signal of truly valuable work? The classics are money and mobility, but not everyone (not every single working-age citizen, not every single graduate) will be able to get a large-enough share of these for signalling purposes; money and mobility work as signals because they allow relative discrimination.

I’ve tended to believe in product, but the first system I experienced was thoroughly impaired at validating quality.

(A tangential realization is that, w.r.t. the problem of the value of work, the ability to recognize good work makes an organization or a society antifragile. Anything that undermines this, e.g. a mania for ‘future’-readiness, fragilizes the system.)

I’ve taken stochastic turns, and they’ve led some interesting places; strength and courage.


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