Illustration of a Pathfinder using binoculars to gaze towards hill where a new moon rises.
As the moon completes another orbit around Earth, the Pathfinders Newmoonsletter rises in your inbox to inspire collective pathfinding towards better tech futures.

We sync our monthly reflections to the lunar cycle as a reminder of our place in the Universe and a commonality we share across timezones and places we inhabit. New moon nights are dark and hence the perfect time to gaze into the stars and set new intentions.

With this Newmoonsletter, crafted around the Tethix campfire, we invite you to join other Pathfinders as we reflect on celestial movements in tech in the previous lunar cycle, water our ETHOS Gardens, and plant seeds of intentions for the new cycle that begins today.

Tethix Weather Report

⛈️ Current conditions: storms gathering in the West.

As streaming services increase their subscription prices, we got to enjoy a free Succession-inspired drama courtesy of OpenAI. A year after they unleashed their AI golems onto the world, it's looking stormy in the land of AI golems. We wanted to reassure our readers that all the billionaires are safe and sound, underground bunkers intact. Incidentally, the drama has intensified the fog and the storms helped to hide other misdeeds from your feeds.

So, instead of speculating about the squabbles between fire apprentices, we wanted to bring your attention to Meta's continued dedication to prioritizing business goals over the well-being of people, Spotify wrapping the year not just with fun music-listening stats but with more layoffs – much harder on regular tech workers than well-connected CEOs –, OpenAI's AI golems living to the name of their creators and being generously open about secrets they were supposed to protect, and inspiring examples of collective organising on TikTok, of all places. (See: Mark Zuckerberg personally rejected Meta’s proposals to improve teen mental health, Meta disbanded its Responsible AI team, OpenAI's Custom Chatbots Are Leaking Their Secrets, Google Researchers' Attack Prompts ChatGPT to Reveal Its Training Data, and Congo cobalt: TikTokers quit vaping over mining concerns)

But fear not, the AI golems are in no danger of being recalled – despite some reports of nightshade poisoning–, and the new OpenAI board of 100% all white men will work hard to ensure alignment to their worldview, and to make a proclamation when they achieve AGI. White smoke rises from the OpenAI chimney, everyone, carbon footprint be damned! (See: This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI, OpenAI’s boardroom drama is over… and has just begun, and Making an image with generative AI uses as much energy as charging your phone)

Speaking of smoke and mirrors, it appears that AI golems are now also being used to generate non-existing female speakers at gatherings of fire practitioners. The New York Times also proved their journalistic excellence by omitting women from their list of 12 AI apostles pioneers. We have been reporting for a while that the AI fog is thickening, but the fog isn't making women any more invisible than men if you keep your eyes open. (See: Tech Conference Collapses After Organizer Admits to Making Fake ‘Auto-Generated’ Female Speaker and Fei-Fei Li and the binders full of women in AI)

So, whether you're a gathering organizer or a reporter rushing to meet deadlines and can't find any women, the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics list for 2024 or the Women in Machine Learning directory are good starting points. Share them far and wide to help dissipate some of the fog, as we collectively take a deep breath and prepare for a new year of uncertain weather conditions.

Hug somebody you love, laugh at the absurdity of the world, and when you're ready, join us for the final selection of seeds and sparks in Earth’s almost completed revolution around the Sun.

Tethix Elemental seeds

Fire seeds to stoke your Practice

An illustration of people worshipping a raging wildfire
A recent Salesforce survey shows that over half of workers who are using generative AI at work are doing so without formal approval, and a whooping 79% don't have clearly defined gen AI policies at work. Hello, shadow AI!

Ignoring the AI elephant in the room is not going to make it disappear just because you don't want or know how to deal with it. The same applies to all ethical tensions and dilemmas: just because you intend to have a well-behaved elephant in your office, it doesn't mean you're not going to have to clean some elephant poop in the morning if you do not potty-train your elephant. Good intent is just the beginning, acting on it is much harder.

Fear not, we do not step into elephant poop when discussing the intent to action gap with the wonderful host Debra J Farber in a recent episode of her Shifting Privacy Left Podcast. But you will learn more about the intent to action gap, Elemental Ethics, how our ETHOS platform will help you embed and embody ethics in your organisation, and more.

(And hopefully, you'll forgive us for misusing the elephant metaphor to get your attention. We know we're all a bit overwhelmed and stressed at this time of the year, so why not throw some metaphorical elephant poop around to release some tension, eh?)

Responsible product development isn't just about taming AI elephants, though. This year, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released the first draft of Web Sustainability Guidelines that offer guidance on “how to design and implement digital products and services that put people and the planet first”. If you've ever visited any W3C guidelines, you know they can be a lot to process, but it's important stuff. Luckily, Sustainable Web Design now offers a more easily digestible website, where you can browse the guidelines by categories and tags. Bookmark it, share it with your team, and use it generously to spark discussions and more sustainable practices!

Air seeds to improve the flow of Collaboration

Having conversations might not seem like much in an industry that values productivity and output. But as Australia's AI Month comes to a close this week, we had many opportunities to rediscover just how important it is to sit around the campfire – digital or physical – together and talk. Whether it's by telling stories or exploring diverse perspectives, conversations are how we make sense of the world together.

We started our AI Month with mythopoetic sense-making of our AI future, an event we hosted in partnership with RSA Oceania and Co-Labs. We told the story of Fire stories and AI golems and used the Taxonomy of Tethix Mirrors to find … love. You can read more about how we got there in our post-event reflection We looked into a Rainbow Mirror to explore a preferable AI-powered future and found love.

We joined forces and spirits again with RSA Oceania for the event AI and Collective Futurecrafting, a thought-provoking conversation on the role AI might play in collectively crafting preferable futures. We again circled love in that conversation, but also wanted to highlight the Abundant Intelligences project that aims to engage Indigenous communities in the design and development of AI models that are more inclusive.

And today, as the Newmoonsletter rises, we're partnering with the Salesforce’s strategic innovation team, Ignite, in Gadigal, Sydney, for the event Igniting a Humane AI Business Culture. Instead of the usual panel-of-experts-talking-at-people, we designed a three-part elemental ethics adventure designed to spark conversations. You'll find some sparks from the event at the end of the Newmoonsletter if you're looking for some conversation starters for your holiday office party or family gathering.

In the past moons, we had the honour of participating in several other gatherings and conversations. The Purpose Conference in Sydney last month was a standout. Hundreds of purpose-driven folks gathered to learn together about regenerative systems, responsible tech, and more. We appreciated the emphasis on the power of imagination, the importance of regenerative practices, and the value of deep listening to the ancient wisdom encoded in stories from the oldest living culture of Australia’s Indigenous people. We can't wait to return next year.

We also embraced Active Hope present at the AdaptNSW Forum held by the Office of Energy and Climate Change. Hope is definitely sustained by knowing that you’re not alone in trying to change how things are done. At the event, we were inspired by the many passionate people persistently working to help people, communities, businesses, and the living systems around us and within us to adapt to climate change and our metacrises. A good reminder that while some of our crises might seem unsurmountable, we can nurture and share a love for life, have a laugh at the absurdity of it all, and together continue having conversations and taking actions that lead towards the future we hope for.

And on our blog, you can now read Mat’s reflection What’s in the AI Leadership Secret Sauce?, prompted by the conversations he had at Australia’s AI Leadership Summit 2023.

Having conversations and developing a common language is becoming especially important as social places on the internet undergo further fragmentation, a trend wonderfully explored in the essay The Balkanization & Babelification of the Internet.

Earth seeds to ground you in Research

We talk a lot about the challenges we see in tech, but deep down we are still techne-optimists. No, no, not the pedal-to-the-metal-don't-stop-for-pedestrians kind. We let Nate explain our philosophy in the essay Forget a16z, this is why we should all be techne-optimists. It's a lengthy one, but you’re already pushing meetings into the new year, so it's a good one to pass the final days before you clock out for the year.

Unlike a16z, being optimistic for us doesn't mean ignoring research and the severity of social and climate issues we are facing as humanity. We are excited about AI, but we cannot ignore its environmental costs. We already wrote about how OpenAI & Big Tech co. are anything but open about the costs of training and using their Large Language Models (LLMs), but luckily academic researchers and open-source models are filling in the gaps.

If you want to learn more about the topic, you should read the paper Power Hungry Processing: Watts Driving the Cost of AI Deployment? – or the more easily digestible Technology Review write up Making an image with generative AI uses as much energy as charging your phone. We're now seeing companies using LLMs for use cases where simpler – and less power hungry – machine learning models might suffice, simply because LLMs are all the rage.

We think it's important to be aware of the carbon costs in product development – or your own usage – when deciding whether and how to deploy AI models. So let this be your friendly reminder that open-source models with greater transparency exist (see The Foundation Model Transparency Index or Hugging Face Carbon Compare Tool to explore alternatives) and that there’s a world of AI models besides LLMs out there already in production and making biased choices.

If you haven't seen it already, we again recommend the TEDTalk AI is dangerous, but not for the reasons you think by the Power Hungry Processing paper's lead author Sasha Luccioni.

And as entertaining as the Make It More AI trend is, it is worth questioning whether we can actually afford the costs of AI image generation. Before this year's UN Climate Summit COP28, the UN released their 2023 Emissions Gap Report titled “Broken Record: Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again)”. Oof. So, remember to feed your human designers and use AI generators wisely!

Sadly, yet again, COP28 made the AI dilemma appear smaller. This year's UN climate extravaganza took place in an oil-rich human-rights-poor country, to which most of the 80,000 attendees had to fly to, with hundreds still choosing the convenience and exorbitant carbon emissions of private jets to enjoy beef burgers and a session on sustainable yachting. Some countries again pledged to be less naughty by 2050 in hopes to impress Santa, but we’ll collectively leave the phasing out of fossil fuels to our (grand)children, should they reach adulthood. But hey, at least the COP28 website offers you the not-default option of a low-carbon version!

If you’re like us, stuff like this makes you want to scream. And please do scream, releasing anger is healthy! But when you scream your lungs out, join us back in the good fight. We often have to remind ourselves that we are optimists – that’s why we had Nate write that whole lengthy essay on it – and that despite all the poop-throwing we do as a species, we still all deserve a chance to live a healthy and dignified life, within biophysical limits. And no, this doesn’t mean living in caves (unless you enjoy the comforts of cave-living). Which is why the choices we make as technologists still matter. The criteria we use for choosing AI systems matter. Product decisions matter. We have the power to design and build software more responsibility – perhaps with low-carbon as the default –, and technology will certainly be a part of how we deal with climate change.

So, if you're interested in machine learning, be sure to check out Climate Change AI, a non-profit exploring the intersection of climate change and machine learning. At the same time, it's worth reiterating that carbon emissions are far from our only problem and that we need systems change, not just climate change, as the Wellbeing Economy Alliance reminds us. We know we share a lot of links to resources that take time to read, so if you're in a hurry, just watch their short explainer video on LinkedIn and hit that Repost button*.

(*And if you happen to be on LinkedIn, why not give our page a follow and show our posts some love to help us spread our seeds and sparks? Yeah, we know, we hate feeding the algorithm too, but we're really trying to bring something different into people's feeds.)

Water seeds to deepen your Reflection

Illustration of four people sitting around a campfire, each person with a place influencing their thoughts. The fire in the campfire is an app that represents ETHOS Gardening based on the Elemental Ethics framework.
Huh, grounding in research certainly is not for the faint of heart, we can almost understand why the folks at a16z don't bother with it. Almost! But the good news is that you’ve reached the part of the Newmoonsletter where we try to inspire awe and hope.

So let's begin with deepfakes. Wait, what? Hold on, maybe they are not the epistemic apocalypse we imagine them to be! Watch philosopher Joshua Habgood-Coote argue that deepfakes are not a new invention and how we might be able to deal with them as a society. (If you enjoy reading philosophy papers, you can also dig into his arguments in paper format.)

This year, AI has certainly sparked and popularized interesting discussions about what it means to be human, sprinkling terminology from different fields all over the place. You might have heard that “hallucinate” was chosen as Cambridge dictionary’s word of the year. An intriguing coincidence at a time when funding for research on psychedelics is on the rise. What if we are all, machines and humans, just hallucinating? Should we hallucinate more to get to the more profound questions? Will we invent machine psychedelics next? We leave these deep reflections to you, dear reader.

You might have also come across research suggesting that we are already struggling with telling AI-generated faces from real ones. But a recent study from Australia that used EEG caps, showed that our brains might subconsciously perceive the difference, so maybe there's hope for humanity yet.

Let this be a reminder that we don't yet fully understand human intelligence, let alone the intelligence of other living beings. For instance, coming back full circle to elephants, recent research seems to indicate that elephants give each other names! A fascinating use of technology to help us understand non-human languages and appreciate diverse forms of intelligence.

If thinking about elephant names isn't enough to make you appreciate life, we recommend playing the 4.5 Billion Year Video Timeline of Earth in 60 Minutes by Kurzgesagt in the background. Or if you want to feel even smaller as you ponder your place in the Universe – the end of the year is a good time for that, regardless whether you're warming your hands with hot ginger tea with honey like Alja in Europe, or melting in early Aussie heat waves like Mat and Nate – watch this incredible timelapse of the future.

Whoa. That's a lot to take in, isn't it? For us, it's a reminder to appreciate life and the time we have on Earth with each other. And to continue spreading seeds and sparks that will make our Earth adventure better for more people, elephants, and other beings.

Tethix Moonthly Meme

Given that we didn’t fly to COP28 (or anywhere else) in a private jet, we allowed ourselves the luxury of asking ChatGPT to generate an image to interpret this Newmoonsletter. And we got this adorable image of the AI elephant you left sitting alone in your empty office building, looking like they might indeed benefit from knowing where the bathroom is.
AI-generated image of a grey elephant sitting alone in an open-space office
Then we asked ChatGPT to make it more… je ne sais quoi.
AI-generated image of an elephant sitting alone in a futuristic looking office full of tech and floating plants
And it appears that your AI elephant is the only one that survives the apocalypse. Or perhaps the elephant was promoted to CEO, finally allowed everyone to work remotely, and turned the expensive office building into a hydroponic garden from which they now run operations using a quantum computer.

Either way, even the AI elephant knows there’s power in nature and that offices aren’t the natural habitat for humans, so we hope you manage to stay out of the office as much as you can in the next lunation cycle. And when you come back, don’t forget to feed and potty-train any elephants you might find in your office.

Your turn, Pathfinders.

Moonthly Pathfinding Seeds to plant & Elemental Sparks to share

This moon, we planted new Pathfinding Seeds on LinkedIn to inspire a bit of positive action and help you explore new paths in your practice. We invite you to share these seeds generously with your network.

Here are the seeds we planted in the previous lunation cycle:

🌱 Explore the deeper narratives and ancient wisdom in Theft of Fire myths and contemplate the relevance to tech in our current world. Then do some reflection on the parallels we see today and your role in the story. (More context.)

🌱 Harness the power of expanding your knowledge around tech ethics instead of buying material things. Reflect on your learnings and share insights gained with people around you. (More context.)

As we were preparing for today’s special event, we decided to bring some joy and spark discussions with Elemental Sparks. We hope you can use these sparks to bridge divisions, spark discussions and storytelling, and deepen your relationships.

Learning. What are machines learning from us? What are we learning about ourselves from them? (More context.)

Ignite. What ignites your imagination? What ignites innovation? What ignites culture change? (More context.)

For the event, we designed Paper Elemental Sparks in the shape of origami fortune-tellers you might remember playing with as a kid. Instead of telling fortunes, Paper Elemental Sparks can be used as a conversation starter (and an excellent fidget toy!). Regardless of whether you’ll be joining us at the event, you can print the paper sparks – or blank templates! – and use them at the office party or any other gathering, perhaps even as a tree ornament or a distraction for the kids.
Drawing of a paper Elemental Spark
If the sparks bring you joy or spark interesting discussions, we’d love to hear from you!

Join us for Full Moon Pathfinding

Speaking of sharing, we are again inviting you to a 🌕 Full Moon Pathfinding session on Dec 27 at 7PM AEDT / 9AM CET (check your timezone), when the moon will once again be illuminated by the sun. We’ll yarn about elephants, rainbow mirrors, our hopes and wishes for the new year, and anything else you choose to bring with you.

If you’d like an invitation, reply to this email ( for those reading this on the web) with your own weather observations. Have you felt the storms where you live, how thick is the fog you’ve observed?

Keep on finding paths on your own

And if you can’t make it to our Full Moon Pathfinding session, we still invite you to make your own! If anything emerges while reading this Newmoonsletter, write it down. You can keep these reflections for yourself or share them with others. If it feels right, find the Reply button – or comment on this post – and share your reflections with us. We’d love to feature Pathfinders reflections in upcoming Newmoonsletters and explore even more diverse perspectives.

And if you’ve enjoyed this Newmoonsletter or perhaps even cracked a smile, we’d appreciate it if you shared it with your friends and colleagues.

The next Newmoonsletter will rise again during the next new moon. Stay safe in the AI-generated fog out there until then, try to learn the names of any elephants you encounter, and be mindful about the seeds of intention you plant and the stories you tell. There’s magic in both.

And finally, remember to smile and love generously as we approach another solstice and prepare for another roundtrip around the Sun together.

With 🙂 from the Tethix campfire,
Alja, Mat, Nate

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