Not having received any reactions to my thoughts and my design actions presented to some individuals and governments, I decided to write this open letter to share an idea.
The human species are the only species known to have trading aspects guiding their lives. At the beginning of humankind, humans bartered food with food, later expanding this to materials and services, and in the few last hundreds of years trading with intellectual business services, what we may call today knowledge.
The First and the Second World War were a terrible experience for mankind. The same period was also the start of an incredible bull stock market, never seen before in history. The launch of the Industrial Revolution in the 18/19th Century and the need for rebuilding Europe, might have been one of the strongest economic boost for the last century.
After a successful period of the Industrial Revolution, the US already experienced a huge economic success until 1929. As we know today, consumption and greed were bigger than a stable financial base. On October 24th, the biggest stock market crash in human history happened ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_Street_Crash_of_1929). Life today might be not much different than what it was in 1929.
The Computer Revolution brought us wealth and the possibility to collect data as never seen before. Big companies are using these data to push consumption. Quite some consume more than they can afford. Our credit based system makes this possible. Unstable markets let us guess what might happen to us in the near future. No consumption, no investment, no growth. The lifestyle we enjoyed for a couple of decades might soon be history.
Even the true origin of the invention of money is not a fixed and closed topic, it is inter- essting to have a short view on the history of money in general. Many cultures around the world developed the use of commodity money, that is, objects that have value in themselves as well as value in their use as money. Ancient China, Africa, and India used cowry shells. As bones and shells where not a stable and measurable good, they were replaced by bronze coins, later silver and finally by gold, the money standard that sur- vived over thousands of years. Gold was ever since trusted as a safe haven ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_money#Prehistory:_predecessors_of_money_and_its_ emergence).
At some point in history, metal coins where replaced by paper. The reasons where over time different. China introduced it first, but had to get back to metal coins after a failure of this system. Marco Polo brought the idea of paper money to Europe, where it was introduced and abolished again at different points ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banknote ).
Now in 2019 we are at a possible turning point of a new currency system, not managed or controlled by humankind. In 2009 the first decentralized cryptocurrency Bitcoin was launched and later seen as a serious and potential new currency system ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptocurrency). From 2015 onwards, hundreds of cryptocurrencies were launched, some of them very successful. In 2019, Facebook launched their first New World Currency called Lira. I wrote Mark Zuckerberg in 2017 and 2018 some messages and introduced the idea of a New World Currency to him. I never got any answer or cooperation response from Facebook. Years before, I contacted the Swiss National Bank several times to present the idea of a new currency approach. The Swiss National Bank answered and explained that there was no need for such a new system. Our system today would be good and approved. Later on, I was able to present the idea in China. The interest was big, but I did not get any further reactions or propositions for a collaboration. China will probably launch its own first country cryptocurrency in the next few years.
After the 1929 crisis, America restarted again. Thanks to them and their Allied forces, the Second World War could be brought to an end. Since then, the US Dollar is the world currency. The dollar was historically covered by real gold. In 1944, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was created at Bretton Woods and signed by 44 Allied nations. The contract allowed the US not to cover paper money at 100 by real gold. On 15 August 1971, the United States unilaterally terminated convertibility of the US dollar to gold. This was the end of the Bretton Woods system and the start of the dollar as a fiat currency ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretton_Woods_system ).
Lets see the situation today. Some famous economists foresee the stock market to decline by 40 to 50% if not more in the next years (as this paper was written already in 2019, today, March 24th 2020, this already happened and it might continue further). National Banks are pumping money into the system to get control over the situation. Nevertheless, a major correction is likely to be expected.
This might be one of the reasons why Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies performed so well over the last few years.
The world is going digital, classical payment systems are replaced by digital payment systems such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, Alipay and many others to come.
Now we get to ask three questions.
Today in 2020 we see, that many different players have the power to take the lead. A possible player would be a group of individuals that will set up something like Bitcoin, Gold Coin or another system. Facebook, as mentioned, introduced the Libra in 2019. But governments might stop this by additional regulations. Next to big companies I expect also countries launching their own country crypto currency. That way, they could work with todays money standart, the US dollar or another new standart, but at the same time build up a closed country money system controlled and managed by the countries themselfs using new blockchain technologies. That way, even if the $ would weaken or even collapse, every country could have its own safe haven money system to run the country and cover the main needs for their population. As said before, I aspect China to be the first doing so.
All major human developments were accompanied by symbols. Think about Christianity and other religions, supported and guided by strong symbols. Think about strong families like The Medici or hidden societies like the Knights Templar and others. A symbol gives people the possibility to believe in something, to hold on that and to create communities around it.
A symbol that stands for money is a very complex design problem because it is meant to to talk to everyone, no matter where they come from. Visual understanding in Asia is different from ours in the Western world. The western communication system is based on letters, in China, pictograms are used. To find a symbol that talks a universal language is almost impossible.
The symbol should give people around the world the feeling that they are part of it. It must be a universal design, not Chinese, not Japanese, neither American nor Arabian sign. We live in a globalized world and need therefore a symbol that appeals to every single person on our planet.
People around the world yearn for stability. Any new currency must be stable, must reduce potential risks and stand in favor of sustainability. Sustainability in any aspects. The underlining sign must represent this also in its visual form. It has to be completed and involve the whole world and its values. Last but not least, it should visually talk the currency language without any need of learning it.
While working on the design, I had to make thoughts on how a new system could look like. As discussed at the beginning of this paper, money is used as a trading product between products to products but also products to services, etc.
But ever since, money represents only financial goods and is missing general values in it. I predict most of the people todays work getting replaced by the end of 2050 by intelligent robots and I am obviously not the first and only one to say this. The majority will remain jobless as we understand jobs today because lots of works currently are labor works coming from the area of industrialization. The robot time might be the end of the humans Industrial and Digital Revolution and will open up new fields of development, or as I hope the rebirth of fields we lost in the past. Renaissance 2 could change the focus on what really matters to our human species
Let us think about how money is earned and spent today. Generally speaking, we all need money to survive, to buy food, material goods and survival services such as medicine. Having a long tradition of culture, especially in Europe, we might not be aware of the importance of culture and art in general. Not having cultural events for personal consumption and life balance, we might get very sick quickly or slide into depression. Our earned money is therefore also used for personal enjoying and recovering. We are also expecting volunteer work as normal and free of charge. Intellectual goods are widely not respected if not protected by expensive patents. Why not add licence fees directly in to the finale price of a product instead of setting up costly contracts for every single situation. For example: A painter would not get a total fix price for his painting but would be paid by the new currency, where he has his license fees on the sold artwork. Please count, the painting would cost 1000$, included would be 5% of license fees for the artist. If the artist creation is based on a strong and meaningful artistic seed, the painting might raise to 2000$, 10000$ or as we see also to millions of value. Having a 5% license fee, he would be part of the financial success too. In the end, it would be a win-win for all involved. Was it not also his artistic potential who made all this possible and would this not be fair? This is what I, being a designer experience clearly in the fields of design. The copy-paste problem is well known around the world and in some areas seen as a big problem. Also, labor works could be paid differently with a more fair system. The tea leave picker in India could get small share participation in the success of the brand and be pushed to do more and more instead of suffering to survive. Please consider, that already today many companies do work as fair as they can afford.
This list of values we live, especially in Europe, goes on with quite some more topics.
What I want to say is that money covers money and not much more. We will soon enter into a new time of machine life. Work and values will be produced by machines. As taxes will be divided into machine taxes (presented by some intellectuals in the last few years) and human taxes, we should also consider making this separation in other fields too. We need to transform and design our society so we can cope with the new reality. What we need is a currency system that covers human activities in general or in other words, human lives. One part of the system could be built and represented by machines, one part could represent world resources or commodities and one part could picture human values, qualities and behaviors. This new currency system should represent all these different matters in that way, that they grow and sustain each other healthily. It is not the one or the other system, it is a smart combination of both. If we dont take care of that, the next robot generations, the robot2/robot3 machines could build themselves and their own system and we remain in best view visitors and consumers.
Some financial and managing talents let some people get rich by using the system as it is today, others, missing the money-making talent remain relatively poor. After having reached the rich level the first mentioned start to think about how to support social projects and where to spend money on cultural events. In that way, they change from their reached financial level to social status. This are nice gestures and we could ask ourselves how can we make it possible, that this support starts earlier, maybe sustained by all people or by a % build into a new system?
A new currency system could be balanced and controlled by new technologies such as blockchain. The system should have a stabilizer in itself and be created from different parts of humans actions in life. Gold should be the safe material key in the system, but next to gold, also other commodities could be part of it. Why not putting, for example, the most 10 important commodities with an algorithm directly into the system? If the needs would change in the upcoming years, the used stabilizing commodities would adjust aswell. (gold, silver, palladium, water, air, you name it). In that way, the new system would grow with the technical evolution of our species.
Next to the used paper money of todays Central Banks and the next healthier credit system, there should also be shares representing social goods and cultural efforts such as art, education, music, and others. If for example the paper money, todays economic growth is increasing, all the other parts should increase as a % too. 100$ would not be only a number again but a % of represented stabilizers and values. To start too radical could be a mistake and fail (for example, 33%, 33%, 33%), but another percentage could introduce a new area of values (75%, 20%, 5%, just to put some numbers). Would a country, for instance, push investments on sustainability, their currency should become more valuable because it is, in the end, good for our planet and therefore good for all. This would encourage other countries to develop in that way too. Every country could that way control its own money but be part of a global currency system.
I am aware of the simplicity of the picture I present here, but I am presenting it on purpose to provoke a discussion. Some aspects could be introduced more easily, others would require more time to mature, but maybe this could be the starting point of a new area of financials. I believe, specialists in all the main fields would find a way on how to sort out the technical requirements so the system could work properly and survive also in difficult and unpredictable moments. Money should not enrich only the ones who have financial qualities, but humans who make their quality input in any fields of human life. Last but not least, making money shouldnt be at the expense of the next generations and our planet. In short terms, money seem to be for us humans the absolute, but in longer terms, then when humans might meet higher developed beings from other places, this value might not be the one needed and the one we took care of for a very long time.
The recently experienced money printing by the National Banks worldwide enriched mainly individuals working in the investment area so they could profit from the never-seen bull stock market. At the same time, money spending on culture, education, etc. were decreasing. Instead of the discussed idea of helicopter money, the action where people would get for example $10000 dollars for free, falling from the sky for their own consumption (a boost of the economy), a rethinking of the system could be more effective and sustainable.
Maybe there is a way to add an ethical or environmental part into the new system as well. Using plastic, for example, especially cheap low quality plastic helps to lower production costs but causes problems to nature and to humans future. The earned money by some clever business people (cost reduction) has now to be spent and invest again to balance the system (human body, planet), this time by the public. I imagine, that the new currency system would consider this and visualize the quality of the paid money. For example, a product that costs 100$, but has a partial problem in it, for example, the cheap plastic, it should either raise the price to 100% damage or the value part of the new money system would decrease. Thus the consumer would directly see in the new currency system, that there is a grey or problematic part in it. Consumers could in that way rethink ways of consumption and force production to quality and sustainability. Cheating in favor of its own earnings would be balanced by the system. It would be kind of a soft penalty tax or an awaking tool for consumers. 100$ but with a value of 63% instead of 100% would be less qualitative as a product for 80$ with a value for 100%, just as an example.
I think, generally and especially in the future, mankind needs to go for quality. Some goods that are as already discussed damaging the world or humans could be on a list, even they still would be allowed. Example: we know that humans consume too much sugar, the overconsumption causes disease and later cause costs for health insurance. The new currency would respect this topic and adjust the value of itself. The last-mentioned point might be too strict and radical but is worth a thought. If for example, we have the goal to replace oil, the value part of oil-based products could decrease slowly, for example, 1% every year. That way, if the governments would decide to leave the oil in 20 years from now, the value part of the new money would decrease over 20 years by 20% (1% per year just to put a number) and therefore get gradually over years less attractive to invest in. Put 2% and you speed up the need for replacing it.
I suppose that we are reaching now the last phase of cost reduction, mainly by pushing humans or replacing their work by machines. Burnouts and other illnesses are some results of those actions.
Money should always be a real thing; it should always represent the basis of what it stands for. Today we trade with much a higher amount of money than we have. To undock money from its value is dangerous.
The new money system should represent life in a better and modern time. We should get ready for a new renaissance, where people dont work anymore but start to create more values for humans and our planet.
The universe is generally a system of balance of forces. If you take care of your beloved, they will take care of you too. If you nourish your plants, they will give you their fruits. If we appreciate and take care of our culture, our next generations will get the fruits out of it.
We in Europe should be more aware of how deep our cultural roots are. I think especially of the musical traditions, it all started here and brought this mastery to a climax at around 1900. If we would not have had the masters such as Bach, Beethoven, where would our music culture be today? Their artworks are unmeasurable rich in values and nurrish millions of peoples arround the world, day per day, year per year, and this since hunderts of years. All for free. How some of this artists suffered to create this incredible value is self-explanatory. The same can be said for architects, writers, and many other areas.
Maybe we should not only try to compete with the others by measuring money, technology, and economy, but by giving our hard-learned cultural and social skills a voice and value. I started working on the design of a new currency sign almost 10 years ago. As a result of this design process, I came up with a new World Currency Symbol that would cover all visual needed aspects.
The new proposed currency could be called culture currency or art & culture currency.
I propose this sign to be the next world human currency sign.
the currency for humans, by humans.
Warmest regards, Remo Caminada
ps: Honur means honor and comes from the Romansh language, which is disappearing slowely.
© 2011 / 03.2020 Remo Caminada