Borenstein, Greg. @SpeculativeCash

Automatic text generation has been around since c.forever, and so has recombinant artwork. But both these things have turned a corner with the rise of Twitter bots. The critical language and tools for understanding Twitter bots, who are both poets and poems, both cultural producers and cultural products, is still pretty incipient. Nevertheless, if anything deserves entry to a database of economic speculative fiction, it's Greg Borenstein's @speculativecash bot. Borenstein's bot does one thing, constantly: invents new forms of money.
Some of its ideas are a bit gobbledy-gooky, but that's OK. To imagine the implementation and assess the implications of a new currency, you have to get yourself in an active and flexible frame of mind anyway. You need to sort out the puzzle pieces for yourself. Of course it's made up thousands of currencies. Here are just a few of them:
  • Audiocassette Bank: A distributed ledger system implemented using a cassette containing blank or prerecorded audiotape. 
  • Dadge Chips: A new crypto currency employing a dialectal variant of dodge. 
  • Gonadotropic Bucks: An alternative currency acting on or stimulating the gonads: a gonadotropic hormone. [See also: affect-based currency]
  • Hashmark Payments: A form of currency based on an insignia worn on the uniform to indicate years of service. [See also: sartorial currency]
  • Iconicity Notes: A payment scheme built on the state of being iconic (in all meanings) 
  • Integron Checks: A new crypto currency employing a system of gene capture and dissemination [See also: eugenics]
  • Interethnic Bills: A medium of exchange that depends on between ethnic groups, or their members 
  • Internationalise Chips: An alternative currency that encourages users to make something international; to involve multiple nations. 
  • Irreparableness Bills: A medium of exchange that depends on the quality of being irreparable. Misadvise Chips: A digital currency to advise wrongly. 
  • Masquerader Cash: A distributed ledger system implemented using one who masquerades; a person wearing a mask; one disguised. [See also: reputation-based currencysartorial currency]
  • Moanful Wage: A new crypto currency full of moaning; expressing sorrow. [See also: affect-based currency]
  • Memoria Coinage: A payment scheme built on memory. [See also: memory-based currency]
  • Nature-myth Bills: A form of currency based on a myth symbolical of or supposed to be based on natural phenomena. 
  • Orientation Notes: A distributed ledger system implemented using sexual orientation. 
  • Photosynthesize Fund: A distributed ledger system that forces transactions to perform the process of photosynthesis. [See also: organic currencyecological economics]
  • Process Coin: A medium of exchange that depends on progress; passage: the process of time; events now in process. 
  • Roundaboutness Coin: A form of currency based on the quality of being roundabout or circuitous. 
  • Ruelle Coin: A new crypto currency employing the space between the bed and the wall. 
  • Security Bills: A form of currency based on measures adopted to prevent escape: Security in the prison is very tight. 
  • Triangularity Checks: A form of currency based on the state or quality of having the shape of a triangle. [See also: triangulation]
  • Verbivore Specie: A digital currency based on one who has an enjoyment of words and wordplay. 
  • Witchlike Notes: A distributed ledger system for people who are resembling a witch or some aspect of one.
Borenstein has created some other interesting bots, including @punimalfarm and @fantasticvocab. It feels to me like, under the hood, @fantasticvocab and @speculativecash may have one or two parts in common. Even if they don't, the relationship between money and language is fascinating, and ripe for further exploration (by speculative fiction, and in other ways).

In The Social Life of Money, Nigel Dodd writes that,like language, "money is inherently metaphorical [...] Operating as a system of comparison, money connects what would otherwise be unrelated" (Dodd 2014: 35). One influential tradition sees money and language as basically rivals. The idea that money can invade language, and steal language's social functions, is a very old and very influential idea: something like it crops up, for instance, in work by Ferdinand Tönnies, Karl Marx, Karl Polanyi, Hannah Arendt, and Jürgen Habermas (some associated key phrases include "alienation," "disembedding," "colonization of the lifeworld"). When money does usurp our language, we become like a bee hive whose rich stores have been replaced by the beekeeper's thin sugar gruel. You can see how getting rid of money might feel like a utopian thing to do.

More recent work by Viviana Zelizer and others has challenged this view, claiming that the relationship between money and language is more complicated. Zelizer focuses on the particularity of money: how no two cents are exactly the same, because of the different meanings that people attach to them. It does seem that the world is probably ready for the next step, some kind of synthesis of the classic tradition with Zelizer's critiques of it, which is also informed by recent developments around blockchains and digital metric assemblages.

As well as being a piece of writing, and a writer, @speculativebot is also writing tool. It is a self-replenishing seed bank of story ideas, and of fantastical worldbuilding colors (indigo, orange, jale, ulfire). The site you are on features many marvelous moneys. Furthermore, there are indications that, despite all the efforts of mainstream economics to rigidly limit the ways in which its core ideas are used, speculative fiction writers are beginning to quite seriously mess around with economics. (Perhaps the capitalist imaginary is getting crumbly around the edges after all!) At the same time, overall, in the 20th and early 21st centuries, speculative fiction authors do seem to have given relatively little attention to economics compared to other aspects of worldbuilding.

While many high fantasy novels, for instance, contain maps laying out speculative geographies, or appendices laying out speculative alphabets and languages, few include diagrams explaining a speculative monetary system (if you know of them, please submit!). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says of money that “[p]recisely because it is so basic […] speculative thought has rarely focused on it” (Stableford and Langford 2015). Many works, of course, portray worlds from which money is entirely eliminated (or at least, apparently so) to suggest a primordial heroic past or a sophisticated future (utopian, dystopian, ambiguous, miscellaneous) which has in some way outgrown the need for it.  Others mention money in an offhand and fleeting way, as if it functioned in the imaginary world just as it does in the real world. Where money is concerned, speculative fiction’s rules of thumb to take nothing for granted, and to expect the unexpected, seem not to apply. In yet other works, money is not mentioned at all, leaving readers – those who are interested in such things – perplexed as to whether money is part of the world of the work or not.

@speculativecash is helping to rapidly make up for lost time.

Background reading on the relationship between money and language: