Types of Work

Remember, once upon a time there was a profession and a job for a lifetime. We've accepted this hoping that augmentation will compensate automation….I wrote about this here.

When we take a quick look at the highly specialized profession of a quant (again). we'll see that it's in danger to become replaced by quant finance technology.

What career steps can a quant consider, when this will happen?

Climb - become head of risk management, dive in - become a structurer of innovative financial instruments, surf - become a financial advisor, leap forward - build a next generation of quant finance technology.

Making such a decision it helped to know in which type of work you are in. And, I recommend a typology that's principles are not so different from the innovation types (of The Innovation Mesh)

Time Type - high performance jobs, real-time jobs and off-time jobs
Reality Type - factual (collecting facts), real (solving problems of a real behavior), ideal (provide methodologies or technologies), fancy (stimulate imagination or present things in a virtual reality)
Style Type - what interaction patterns does the job owner mainly use: manual processes, documents, interactive systems or al kinds of presentation.
Structure Type - this most important type describes how the job is integrated into the institution. How it works internally and externally. It describes, whether the job will survive (determined by the stable integration into linear workflows), how it will live in the inner competitive arena (determined by its application in multiple, parallel workflows), how it will be requested (determined by agility). The structure type provides information about how connected the development of the job and the institution are.
Content Type -  it determines the classical job description. They provide information on market segments, sectors, areas of knowledge, ways of working, hierarchy levels...sometimes controlling ideas, conventions and obligations. I tend to distinguish Purpose Types (analyst) and Realization Types (statistician).


Innovators change systems that have caused problems (or create new things). Their innovation can even help that our systems become stronger when stressed. That is difficult work. To do it they need freedom and a high degree of self-organisatiuon and responsibility.

Make money or have fun?

Evaluating any activities, we run into difficulties when pressing emotional and rational criteria into a linear scheme. It provides much more insight to create a map where hygiene factors and motivation factors are orthogonal.

The bigger picture of work

Disputes about labor are often occupied by a broad dispute about the hygiene factors (time and money) - income. This is because they are metrical…motivation factors are difficult to quantify. Parts of the motivation factors are quantitative: margin to name one

In the financial system "Alpha" measures how much an economic bet has beaten the market - more precise, how much a risk-adjusted return beats a the return of a benchmark.

I "generalize" Alpha, denoting a qualitative and quantitative criteria for how much a work result is better than a benchmark. Alpha is then one of the motivation factors. But there are much more, let's summarize them under Self-realization

Simplifying, I identify 4 regions on a Self-realization / Income map of work

Slavery - in the low / low corner
Hobby - in the high / low corner
Factory in the low / high corner
Lab - in the high / high corner

Through the lens of innovators we're interested in factory vs lab work, but politicians should look  deeper…some of them preach still "the dignity of slave work"...

Innovators do lab work, striving today for a breakthrough for tomorrow. The more this work is aided by connected AIs the more it may become factory work. Make the same things better and cheaper. We need answers before this will happen…and they're not found in "better marketing".

The Future of Work

Three people can make and install a classical kitchen. A carpenter, a plumber and an electrician. But we need only two to install an almost automatic kitchen lab. One, who lifts up all the machines and aggregates and one who integrates them all into a system. "The Biceps" and "The Brain".

Some experts see three worlds of labor.

Working with intelligent machines

Working in the factories of the big companies whose headquarters are in the skyscrapers of the "world trade centers"... They'll become even bigger and more profitable and they'll advertise long-term job contracts asking for engagement and flexibility.

Working around the quality of life

Working for the companies whose social responsibility dominates the corporate culture. They'll offer ethical values ​​and balanced principles of work and demand loyalty, green sense of responsibility.

Working on a short-term contract basis

Working for companies that want flexibility by minimal fixed costs. Often small businesses that want to achieve rapid growth trough innovation. They promise varied challenge and autonomy but on a short-term contractual basis.

The polarization of work

But striving for a better politics, I'm more interested in the polarization. The biceps versus the brain polarization, the system makers vs the users…Especially, what will happen, when technology becomes capable of self reorganization and replication.

Think of a skilled lathe operator, who has produced complicated parts on a lathe manually. A marvel of mechanics, hydraulics and electrics. Then, she became trained as programmer of computerized lathes and managed three of them in parallel. She got an off-line programming system that provided animation of the operations, making her quite comfortable that things will go right…But after thousands of computerized machines were connected and centrally programmed and monitored…the headache began. Will she understand parametric programming, the theory of optimal operation plans…?

Once upon a time there was a profession and a job for a lifetime

OK, we can accept that this time is gone. The change created the chance that the new job was more exiting and generated more income.

But, the threatening polarization, conveyed by smart connected systems, rises a few questions:

Can education win the race against technology? IMO, in the age of quantification and context, the innovation spiral turns faster.  This does not mean we shall give up emphasizing on education. No, we need to think of new methodologies and use clever tools to educate better…but this may not be enough.

Will technology be more responsible than economic and politics rules? That question brings to my mind that it was never so easy to start a business, but in many industrial countries start-ups are in decline. So, IMO, it seems political rules do not fit well to technological capabilities.


Will technology describe a new nature of work that changes everything? This may happen, if technology becomes an underlying for cultural, socio-economi and political systems…supporting more quantitative treatment and adaptation.

New technology - new work - new economics - new politics.

p.s. Think of the quants. They contribute to the replacement of quant work by systems. What will they do? Develop even better quant replacing systems? Design a fundamentally new financial system? Reinvent risk management? Become a quant trainer?...