Beginning an Infinite Game

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Macro

“A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.” 

James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games

Graduating university is a cornerstone of a classic American life. I recently graduated and one reason I had such a tough time updating the blog was revising for my (mostly) useless exams. My friends who took time off during university to work and then returned to school said it was near impossible to feel like a student again: the siren song of work was too tempting to ever let it go.

This made me curious why that was. Culturally, we as students are told that we are having the time of our lives. In reality, all my friends were looking forward to getting on with their lives and leaving school behind. But that’s selection bias – what do the facts say?

Although I studied in the UK, I think the US Census from this year still pertains to this discussion:

“Since 2000, the number of people age 25 and over whose highest degree was a master’s has doubled to 21 million. The number of doctoral degree holders has more than doubled to 4.5 million.

Now, about 13.1 percent of U.S. adults have an advanced degree, up from 8.6 percent in 2000.”

And from Vox back in 2015:

source: Vox

Master degrees are now as common as bachelors degrees in the 1960s. Clearly a lot of people want to stay in education perhaps due to the uncertainty of the job market or structural unemployment? That’s not true either: the US has unemployment rates at a 49 year low. Jobs are made faster than people can retrain to do them. This is what Andrew Yang’s presidential run is made of – the robots will learn faster than we can, therefore we need UBI.

I couldn’t understand this phenomenon until I realized that there is a huge misclassification in the way economists write about jobs. Not all jobs are made alike much like the workers who do them. People retrain to start earning in a higher bracket and for this, they think they need to do a masters.

However, finally graduating has made me realize the value of real world experience. Coding and building product day to day is entirely different than procrastinating until the day before the deadline. The first requires that you’re responsible not only to those you work with but to yourself (sleeping on time, eating well, and collaborating with your team). In the second, it’s alright to be a one man show.

Having a great team is like playing an infinite game as it almost seems you’re playing on easy mode. For the first time I feel that way and I hope it continues – the bay area, and by extension software, will continue eating the world.

The Author

Some musings about tech + philosophy + econ.

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