fSM (feces Standard Money) for communities
by Cho, Jaeweon
Professor, Social Engineer, UNIST
Director, Science Walden
Science Walden named after the Thoreau\'s essay and the Skinner\'s novel, is now attempting to bring a new order into our society using two concepts: feces standard money (fSM; please refer to edge.org/response-detail/26660
At the Science Walden lab (e.g., Science Cabin) and communities, the feces from the BeeVi toilet is set to experience a series of sustainable energy production reactors and facilities, such as anaerobic digestion followed by separation of methane and carbon dioxide. We plan to use produced methane for heating and fuel of community bus so that residents can spend the fSM to pay for the heating and to use a community bus. We design vegetable gardens and grow vegetables using the remained composts transformed from the feces and water purified from rainwater and wastewater.
We developed the fSM system with applications, including toilet sensor, smart phone connection, payment and purchasing tools with devices using either blue tooth, radio frequency ID, or QR, and peer networks. Users of the BeeVi toilet receive 10 “Ggool” then 3 Ggool out of 10 Ggool is subject to be distributed to peers within the fSM system. The fSM is being tested at the Science Cabion and other communities. Besides the BeeVi toilet based fSM, we also test basic income fSM with 10 Ggool being paid everyday to everyone in the system without respect to BeeVi toilet usage, with minus 7% interest per day. Basic income fSM paid today remains half and only 10% after 10 and 30 days. We can not save basic income fSM, thus, we had better use or send it to peers or others if possible. With the two fSM, we trust we design our new systems, including economy, welfare, and even democracy with alternative voting.
Spontaneity: What if we pay for electricity with a higher rate than the present one, with our intentions, to newly shape our society? Imagine we may select different options of electricity sources with different charges, as measured using monitoring gauges, even with the same electricity provided. The overpaid portions of electricity are subject to be invested for development of technologies of renewable energies and corresponding policies. With all the data from this attempts, we had better take the shape of our data in our ways, to reveal all the connectivities between everything in the society; otherwise, others do to control us using our data. Thus, designing the order of our society using the optional selection is not an option but a necessity.
We are facing problems from two of our great inventions: money and flushing the toilet.
We all use money, but we can be isolated from money at the same time. Without a doubt, money is one of the greatest human inventions, but it may also be one among the worst ever created.
In the present social, economic system, gold is the standard of money. Although gold is precious, and, as a standard, brings both universality and anonymity to money, it has nothing to do with anything that comes from human beings. While we can do many things with gold standard money in our modern societies, there are no significant connections between the money and ourselves. Thus, it can be hypothesized that whenever we use money, we are isolating ourselves from the world.
Flushing the toilet—a second great invention—also has both positive and negative aspects. While it deals effectively with issues of hygiene, when we flush the toilet we are flushing our excretion into the natural environment and this leads to severe problems. Here’s an idea which could lead us to a new kind of artistic and scientific world: Can you think of a horizon in which we can both mitigate the problems while keeping the advantages of our current money system? Imagine a scientific method of making odorless powders from our feces, and replacing money with that powder as an alternative to our current system—i.e., “feces standard money (fSM).”
Every morning we can put our powder into reactors located in our village to supply food for the microorganisms that can produce various energies such as methane and biodiesel. We can receive a certain amount of fSM in exchange for the powdered feces, and use the fSM to obtain any equivalent value within a system. Feces, like gold, is limited and precious; nobody can make more than a certain limit, and it can be converted to energy. Furthermore, everyone can make feces every day. Whenever we produce and use fSM, it will remind us of our being and existence from the bottom line connection between the fSM and the human being. Thus, fSM has meanings from perspectives of economy and minds of the human being. fSM can automatically become “basic income,” as long as we put feces into the reactors on a daily basis instead of continuing to flush the toilet. We don’t have to argue the feasibility of the concept of basic income with the gold standard of money. We can use both money systems without conflicts.
fSM has similar characters to the local exchange trading system (LETS) but is different in various aspects, from the origin of value (i.e., from us) and the system with it. The fSM is different from other types of credit such as mileage, coupons, and online coins, because it is directly connected to our existence, free will, and intentions as a meaningful act, of not using the flushable toilet.
The dollar has been allocated to a certain quantity of gold. Similarly, fSM can be made out of a certain amount of feces powder. Everyone can earn money from their selection of the ecological toilet, and have meaningful moments as they use the fSM by being connected to both their free will with the selection and their subsequent purchases.
Suggestions: A system with fSM can be designed with an App or other similar ways. fSM can be used along with the present currency to buy something such as gas, coffee, foods, and to pay for other enjoyable activities. For example, take the case of street performers. We can enjoy their work and don\'t have to pay anything. Instead, the street performer can be offered some fSM with a designed IT system. Payment may not come directly from the audience. Neither the performers nor the audience have to be subject to the present payment system whenever fSM is available. Values depending on the production of energy or other equivalent products from the feces at a designated time or date can be distributed to the participants of the system. Of course, since this system with fSM can\'t provide everything that we need, conventional money also has to be used.
The proposed money system requires various technologies such as biological processes for energy production—and new industries as well such as “golden electronics” (compared to white electronics) for toilets to ecologically convert feces into powder.
2. visions with fSM
(1) fSM as worldwide currency beyond LETS, (2) Welfare with fSM (over Despair), (3) Preparing for reunification of two Koreas and working for present Northern Korea (DPRK)
(1) fSM as worldwide currency, beyond LETS
When taking a walk in the park, I am informed of a chance to buy coffee using fSM at 9 Ggool until one hour later from now, by an adjacent cafe. I go to the cafe to enjoy Yirgacheffe coffee by paying 9 Ggool. There are some people in the cafe who are also drinking coffee with their fSM, including mother and her daughter. The mother is curious about how her daughter can buy two cups of coffee without any money or credit card. The daughter explained the fSM. After a while, the fSM coffee sale is over. One gentleman enter the cafe and realize to have missed coffee. He buy the coffee using credit card. When I ask the clerk why the cafe provides coffee with fSM, she tell me the cafe can not sell tomorrow the Yirgacheffe coffee using the present beans they have according to the cafe rule. The Yirgacheffe beans remain more than enough, and the quality is still fine with good aroma and taste. She also mentioned that the cafe can buy the Yirgacheffee coffee beans from internet, using fSM, under contingent conditions.
“Incidents are the best helper” by Agnes Varda, in her movie ‘Faces Places (2017)’
At a heavy snowy day, one old man is shoveling the snow in front of my apartment. He does his favor for his neighbors. I express my gratitude to him with my fSM which is kind of good comment in the internet; he has the right not to receive the fSM. We do not know each other in person and he does not know who gives him the fSM. In the afternoon of the same day, the person who shovel the snow for his neighbors may enjoy coffee or pizza with the fSM. Some day he might have get a message from an airline that he gets an off-season seat to Spain, in exchange of his fSM, which he has been waiting for.
Airlines assign a small portions of seats, especially in off-season, to fSM seats which we can reserve with fSM currency. An old man who has never travelled abroad can finally reserve both round tickets and hotels using his fSM. Children of economically vulnerable class families are able to watch movies at theaters using their own fSM as multiplex cinema corporations have allocated some portions of tickets for them. The airlines and mutiplex cinema corporations allocate vacant seats to customers who want to buy using fSM. The corporations either give the earned fSM to their employees as special bonus or can purchase bio-energy to be utilized for their restaurants. The airlines and cinema corporations expect to publicize with fSM currency system for a marketing strategy as the fSM system is well known throughout the world.
Mother and two daughters who are travelling in Seville, Spain, are informed of that they can enjoy a few tapas in exchange of fSM. They enjoy tapas at the tapas bar which sent the message to people within 1 km from the bar, and drink beers (cerevezas) paid in Euros. The tapas restaurant may purchase olives from a few olives farmers who are willing to receive fSM; the young workers of the olive farms are enjoying to listen to Korean K-pop song which can be bought on internet sites by fSM.
(2) Welfare with fSM, over despair
A child who has been forcibly separated from her mother at the border between USA and Mexico, is now receiving lots of fSM throughout the world. One famous university in USA offer her that she can pay all the tuitions if she enter into the university using her fSM currencies which are more than enough to afford. One toy shop and one icecream store near the house in which she temporarily lives propose her to buy toys and icream by fSM. One airline offers tickets to Mexico if she can visit Mexio to meet her mother, which can be purchased by fSM.
Villagers in a small town, Guatemala, who lost all their living bases, can buy foods and water using fSM sent from all over the world. They can even purchase some products through international parcel delivery service usign their fSM. They may have some plans to move to other places with fSM.
Free lenser artists have plans of exhibition this fall with their works. They open web sites where they can sell their art works in exchange of fSM, and may purchase materials with which they work for the exhibitions. Independent musicians play busting at a beach to earn fSM. With fSM, they may buy an used but good quality of musical intruments, such as guitar, for their concerts. Young job applicants can buy sandwitch with cofee in the morning at the plaza using fSM. Retired person, from one of big energy company, is now working for a local company which deals with bio-gas plant related to fSM system, and gets paid with fSM.
(3) Preparing for reunification of two Koreas and working for Northern Korea (DPRK)
Northern Korea (DPRK) is known being lack of water, energy, and fertilizer. The fSM system can save water and provide bio-energy and fertilizer. Thus, we can work together with Northern Korean with the fSM system to solve problems that Northern Korea is now experiencing. We both can design cities based on the concept of circular economy instead of contructing buildings and infrastructures in similar ways that have been used last decades in Southern Korea. We name the new cities, based on circular economy, as ‘City with wisdoms’.
When preparing the unification of the two Korea, there are difficulties in culture, economy, and many others. After overcoming the difficulties, we can extend our experiences into other conflict areas across the borders, with various issues, for two Koreas to contribute to solve the conflicts. It is the “Peace across the borders”.
3. Basic Income fSM
I wake up in the morning to get alarm to inform me 10 Ggools of fSM (“Ggool” is the unit of feces Standard Money (fSM) currency) is deposited in my fSM account. It is actually 7 Ggools as 3 Ggools were sent to my peers. This payment happens every morning for every member of fSM currency system without regard to BeeVi toilet usage. Thus, it is called basic income fSM. The difference between normal and basic income fSM is the latter decreases with time with minus interest of 7 % per day. Basic income fSM paid today remains half and only 10% after 10 and 30 days. We can not save basic income fSM, thus, we had better use or send it to peers or others if possible.
We have not experience ever money disappears from our account even though we do not use. However, if we think in a different way, we may recognize it is natural for things to disappear with time. For example, harvested apple decays if we do not eat it right away. Fish as well. It is not natural for us to pack or store apple and fish under specific conditions, using ways and technologies human find or invent; we keep values that are supposed to vanish otherwise, using artificial ways and technologies. Maintaining values using man-made technologies provides side effect as well. For instance, patterns of market change as we do not have to come to market to buy apple and fish too often. We do not say the change in market patterns is wrong but we have to acknowledge the systems of society have changed.
Coinage and paper money do not disappear differently from commodities, such as apple and fish. Adam Smith thought only labor could create an economic value thus correspondingly believed human labor should be the standard for all of the economic values. A commodity in markets obtains a certain price by the invisible hands depending on the corresponding supply and demand. Money is means and tools. Value disappears but money does not. Money may sometimes grow. Money creates new value in forms of capital which is much bigger than the original money. It is astonishing logics and theory. Capital may disappear but money remains. Survived money may try to make another capital.
Labor was a starting point of all values. We do not probably sense the fact any longer or forget it. However, the agreement still exists in all of our minds regarding the belief upon human labor being a standard; even with profits seemingly caused from capitals, we believe some portions of the profits should be allocated to the laborers because they contribute and the standard of produced values should be based on human labor. Meanwhile, capitalists believe capitals greatly contribute to produce values besides human labors and may think portions of values produced by capitals are higher than ones by human labor. But, capitalists still believe standards behind all the profits lie in human labor as there is no other option in the modern economy.
Human being invented the concepts of money and labor. We, human being, also made and have been strengthening the belief that human labor is the starting point of all the economic values. The belief that human labor is valuable and divine, is different from the belief that human labor should be the starting point of the values. Capitalists understand this and have been understanding that their shares are greater than ones for laborers. Here I would emphasize that all these believes and understanding accompany the notion that both laborer and capitalist have common thought the economic value has its standard on human labor. It is irony to find that inequity on the distribution of profits produced by labors and capitals is inevitably connected to our belief that human labor should be the starting point of the values. Someone thought we could solve the inequity of wealth distribution of the economic values created by both labor and capital, based on systems of government. We call them as socialist. This is also one of what we, human being, invented. This means that we could have selected ones that are different from what we have now. Different selection gives us different meanings; human labor might not be the starting point, we might invent other signifiers rather than money, capital or capital itself could be differently formed, and many others. What if we choose human itself instead of human labor as a standard of the economic value, and we may want to make a system with money which disappears naturally like a thing in the nature.
Human labor is surely valuable and may be divine. No doubt about it. However, what if human may be alienated because of the standard with human labor? If so, do we still have to place economic value on human labor more than human itself? We know human labor is inevitably connected to capital. We are probably living in the society where even non-wage laborers do not accept importance and agree with values of non-wage labor. Let alone who can not work with labor. How about labors done by robots with artificial intelligence? Do you still believe human labor be primary standard of all of the profits and economic values in a future society where robots substitute human? I would remind you labors by robot and artificial intelligence are not done by human but by capital. This means that all the profits and economic values resulted from the labors are supposed to go to corresponding capitals.
We are not suspicious that money can play a role to create capital (or as new vlaue) even though we are aware that money is only medium for exchange. Values may come out of desire and fear. Desire towards necessity, utility, pleasure, and having the scare makes various values (the Order of things (1994), by Michel Foucault). Fear against uncertain future also makes values. Money may be a perfect tool to meet the desires and minimize fear as money does not decay to disappear differently from apple and fish unless money holder spend money. Money is not only medium of economic exchaing markets but a value itself as we have desire and uncertain future. Money has become a full of charm through the desires and vague fear. As the charm and fear are too enormous, so we probably lose our reasons of inventing the concept of money why and with which we have been trying to satisfy our desires and to overcome our fear. Now, the desires are too boundless to meet and fear is too high to overcome. Hallucination emerges from the desires and fear to give great credit to money, which creates capitals which both governments and banks support and guarantee.
The solutions are of course difficult but may be easy to make if we do not have fear against uncertain future and we believe we are OK in the future. Not always but we can at least lessen our desires once we can control our fear towards unpredictable future. What if we have confidence we can have foods, house to live, activity/culture/leisure, and contribution for our community? Governments work to give the confidences to the citizens using welfare systems supported generally by tax. Capitalists may argue we can solve the above problems effectively only if we do not restrict the corresponding capitals with controls, such as regulation and tax. It is about ideology. Please understand and do not misunderstand that I prepropose desires for money or capital are simply bad. I am talking about potential solutions with a new vision.
When coming back to where we started our discussion, we all are supposed to get paid with basic income fSM every morning if we are in the fSM system. Suppose that we are confident we are going to be paid continuously after 10 years and even later. And, we all know the fSM is from our network but not from governments or central banks. That is why we already discussed on gift and sharing economies as well as environmental economy intiated a system with toilet and bioenergy. Thus, it is an alternative basic income. With the basic income fSM, we are supposed to lower (but to greater basics) the standard of money, with a new philosophy of money, from human labor to human itself. With a negative interest of money (i.e., the basic income fSM money), it is nonsense to store it for the future and not necessary because we get paid newly in coming days. We can use the basic income fSM to design various systems of local societies. We can easily expand the systems into the global world as we share the same codes of designed subsystems and media (i.e., signifiers). It is both alternative and complementary currencies. We do not deny the existing present order but try to make a new order come to us.