CJW (CHO Jaeweon): In our project, Science Walden, we are trying to make our society as happy as we can, using the concept of the feces standard money (FSM), which is the goal of the Science Walden project. Here, 'feces', 'feces standard', 'money', and 'happiness' mean environmental engineering, humanities, economics, and ethics, respectively. Of course, I understand it is too big jump with big concept but I would start with these for convenience to hit the discussion.
Debater (director of an art center): I think we need to bring our diverse opinions and thoughts toward right directions, through asking ourselves on values of Science Walden. Otherwise, we just do our own research which is fragmentary but not connected to others of the team. Then, it is not easy to converge all the results into a whole at the end of the project.
My first question is why we should deal with feces in the project. If we do not have clear explanation on this, we may have low confidence and big doubt about the project itself.
CJW: It started from environmental point of view a few years ago. I did not have the concept of FSM at that time but wanted to make a different and alternative system to minimize environmental contamination from toilet.
Debater: Environmental issues with contaminations are not new.
CJW: It is not new but different as well in that we do not let any feces into the Nature as we do not use flushing toilet. As you know, even if our community has wastewater treatment facility to treat wastewater including feces and urine, but, the facility can not completely remove the contamionants. As we do not use flushing toilet, we can save water very much, lower wastewater treatment expense, and collect feces and transform it into bioenergy using digestion bioreactor. It is the bioenergy, including methane, that we can give money (i.e., FSM) to users of the non-flushing toilet.
Debater: How much do we get paid when using non-flushing toilet once?
CJW: We can get "10 Ggool" in return of one usage. Here, the unit of Ggool is honey in Korean.
Debater: Are all the users supposed to get the same money out of the usage, without respect to excretion amount?
Debater: Is it right to give the same amount of money even though their excretion amounts are different?
CJW: I think we can decide which one is right. We may design we get different FSM money depending on feces amount or the same FSM money (i.e., 10 Ggool). This is why I named the money as feces standard money over simply feces money. Feces is surely not human, but, only human can use the non-flushing toilet for both environmental and economic perspectives. Thus, feces from "feces standard money" is the symbol of human of the judgment towards environmenal ethics and a justice with relation to the Nature.
Debater: How much money in the present monetary system corresponds to 10 Ggool?
CJW: We have two options to use the FSM. Firstly, we have exchange rate of FSM. When we want to get the present money (i.e., won) from FSM, we may exchange in so called FSM bank. Secondly, we can imagine a certain economic system for a community with a dual monetary usage of the present money and FSM, without an exchange betweeen the two. We can talk about this more in detail sometime soon. I favor the latter but I understand we have to consider other possibilities.
With the first option, when we consider the present economic situations with water and energy, 10 Ggool can give us about a Korean won of 500.
Debater: Considering all the difficulties of human feces and corresponding expenses, the monetary value of 500 Won seems unreasonable. It looks even nonsense.
CJW: I know it is weird, but we consider all the expenses, including costs of initial infrastructure construction and subsequent operations. We did calculations along with a few industrial companies. Based on the calculations, we can recover the construction fee within 6.6 years, with a community of about 1,000 persons.
Debater: I really want to look at those data. By the way, I can not have any confidence whether it is right decision to give whatever money to who does not work at all but only drops poo.
CJW: With your question with doubt, I would ask you whether you agree it is right for who own the building, i.e., infrastructure capital, and do not work, to earn their incomes. Do you think it is ethical? I would rather judge getting a money out of our donating feces is more reasonable in many aspects than earning profits with capitals. We can also build a capital of infrastructure with FSM which I believe is the good capital.
Debater: What is the capital of FSM infracture? How can the FSM infrastructure formed from the process of making bio-energy out of feces?
CJW: I believe capital has not only money, as currency, but also infrastructure. Infrastructure comprises of both private and public ones. We can imagine infrastructure of making bio-energy from poos collected using another infrastructure as well. We may also imagine profit can be generated from both the FSM and the infrastructure, thus, we call those as capitals.
Debater: I do not see clear difference between the FSM infrastructure you mentioned and our present infrastructures. If so, those are going to be the same in the end without any difference in our societal system.
CJW: It is the point where we need our vision and imagination. I would say, we are going to make invisible ones into visional realities. FSM, for example, is believed to contribute to the basic income. Basic income may need more tax collection to some degrees but FSM can minimize the burden thus lowerer the hurdle to the basic income implementation. In this way, we can imagine many other welfare systems once we have certain amounts of source of revenue from the FSM. Or, we may give various different business models to the world.
Debater: I am a little confused. But, what is the exact difference between paying the same amount of a money as the FSM to the public, as basic income, and paying the amount directly to the public, as basic income, without through the FSM.
CJW: Once again, I would like to tell you I prefer to give 10 Ggool to 500 Won or 3,000 Won, even as basic income, after we agree to regard the Gool as cash. By doing this, I believe we can design various models of welfare and business, and also solve conflicts we have for our society.
Debater: What conflicts do you have?
CJW: As we know, we have conflicts between generations and between capital and labor values. FSM may help to mitigate the conflics, I think.
Debater: I don't understand how the FSM eases the conflicts.
CJW: Let me take an example of the financial deficit of subway service. Senior citizen over 65 years old can ride freely the subway everywhere in Korea. Free ride of senior citizens may be controversial in the future as the deficit gets severe. FSM economics can be coupled with subway fare system in oder to make up for the deficit even thought it is not enough. We have another case of job oportunity between generations because we have problems of youth generation unemployment which may get worse when many jobs are substituted by artificial intelligence equipped robotics. FSM uses automatic and machanized system but also produces many new occupations which we do not easily imagine. Rent business using toilets equipped with health monitoring sensors is one that we can think. The company provides maintenance of the toilt, collects data from the toilet with both poo and urine, and more importantly diagnoses the users.
Debater: The toilet with the sensor seems to be charming but only the rich persons can afford it. Right?
CJW: It seems right, but, the true may be opposite. Do you think only the rich persons can afford home water purification unit for potable water? We can develop some business models with rental service and others, to make a reasonable and affortable price of the toilet equipped with health monitoring devices. We may think selling in lots apartments which provide health monitoring for the residents by using the FSM toilets, which increases value of the apartments.
Debater: When I heard what you talk, I think the FSM brings us into two different parts, firstly the economic ands secondly the dignity of human being parts. Does this connect to the poo with dignity?
CJW: I agree. FSM starts from the human dignity, i.e., the inborn value of human being. Poo may be considered as the symbol of the human dignity.
Debater: I think FSM deserves to be studied as far as it is connected to the human dignity, even without lack of an economic benefit. Probably in near future where artificial intelligence substitutes our labor, we surely have many surplus human beings who are isolated from both capital and labor. What do you think with this?
CJW: I do not know much about what happens in near future with the issue of artificial intelligence, with respect to isolation of human itself or human labor, as compared to the present situation. But, I agree we have problems of isolation of human being also in the future as much as we have at present. One thing I want to stress is that artificial intelligence is not labor, even though it substitues, some labors but capital. Then, I am certain the ratio of the earning by capital to the one by labor surely increases. This is one of the backgrounds why persons, like Thomas Picketti, insist we should increase taxation to reduce the inequality of income and capital, or to implement the basic income. But, I am not sure whether or how much the capitalists and the rich accept this.
Debater: While we are talking these, animal right issue occurs to me. It has been told recently many times. The logic is that animal has a right as an animal as human is also one of animals.
CJW: I think differently in that animal has the right as all the lives deserve to be considered precious. The two are seemingly the same but somewhat different. The difference lies in values of between animal and life.
Debater: The reason why I bring up the animal right issue is that we have not asked any question regarding the human dignity in mordern times, especially from philosophy perspectives. I think we may loose the dignity of human being simply because we consider it as we take it for granted. To my understanding the human dignity comes from relations.
CJW: I think your thoughts are deep. I agree with your importance of relations. As you probably know, the Science Walden project has a foundation of Confucian, with conception of benevolence which we have whenever we meet each other. Benevolence is regarded as the highest virtue of all. FSM makes firstly the flow of poo, secondly the flow of energy, then the flow of money followed by the flow of human.
Debater: I hope we can continue these discussion with other thinkers.
CJW: I also hope.