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: foggy with low visibility.

The fog brought on by the fire apprentices' experiments with AI golems persists. The Ministries of Magic around the world are trying to deploy their regulations to herd the golems and attempt to clear the fog that is causing mass anxiety and uncertainty. There seems to be general agreement that the golem problem is out of control, yet we’re waiting for the Ministries to tell us what to do. (See Everyone wants responsible AI, but few people are doing anything about it.)

Meanwhile, the AI golems are multiplying and roaming around unchecked, becoming more human-like every day. Caution is advised if you plan to venture outside and seek paths in this thick fog. We've heard reports of golems running over pedestrians in their gas guzzling SUVs amidst reports of water shortages near the alleged locations of golem-producing kilns. (See Artificial intelligence technology behind ChatGPT was built in Iowa—with a lot of water.)

Also beware of tricksters posing as Pathfinders, trying to seduce you with maps spanning 100+ pages in PDF. Often the scale of these maps is all wrong, possibly of the wrong place, with legends written in ancient Sumerian, so we advise you not to rely on trickster maps for your pathfinding. You might also stumble upon compasses that point to responsible AI principles. Keep in mind that while a sense of direction is important, you also need to figure out where your destination is. Our Elemental Workshops can help you better connect to the land and strengthen your pathfinding skills and reduce over-reliance on navigational artefacts of questionable origin. (See Tethix Elemental Workshops, use code EARLY for a 30% discount until Oct 23.)

But fear not, we are hearing reports of villagers successful chasing away some of the golems with the might of their pens and collective organising, so there is hope for humanity yet when we come together. (See How Hollywood writers triumphed over AI – and why it matters.)

Keep your hopes up, Pathfinders. The fog will clear away.

Tethix Elemental seeds

Fire seeds to stoke your Practice

Illustration of the garden goldem holding a tablet and watching flowers bloom in the garden. Hands holding a Pledge button are supporting the garden.
It seems we’re all trying to figure out what gen AI is actually for. Writing code definitely appears like a forte, and some say it might turn everyone into a developer – all in the name of increased productivity –, while Silicon Valley is trying to improve the golem’s creative writing skills. Meanwhile, OpenAI’s Ilya Sutskever calls deep learning ‘alchemy’, and weirdly The Emerald podcast, which explores AI through stories and myths, is the one that makes the most sense.

AI challenges our views on humanity, intelligence, consciousness, creativity. The AI golems and the men behind the curtain who brought them to life all say they just want to help, but this new fire is spreading faster than we can make sense of it.

Our response to feeling lost in the AI fog was to design Elemental Workshops that explore generative AI beyond productivity and the usual hype and harms narratives. We’re approaching this new fire with both caution and curiosity. It’s clear we’re going to have to build a firepit to contain it, yet we also think it can help us learn more about our humanity.

And while the AI fire holds our attention these days, it certainly isn’t the only fire you should worry about when trying to build better products. Responsibility is more than just Responsible AI. And responsible product development isn’t just about ticking compliance checkboxes, but thinking about product development as more than just a fire practice.

Which is why we’re trying to bring attention to other elements with our Elemental Ethics framework. Alja explores how your day-to-day practice will change if your organisation decides to embrace responsible firekeeping in the blog post Day in the life of a responsible firekeeper: your journey from installing to embodying ETHOS. The path to hell is laid with good intentions, but we think the path to responsible products is laid with actionable pledges that balance fire with other elements.

Air seeds to improve the flow of Collaboration

Screenshots of various places in the Tethix Archipelago, a virtual 2D collaborative pixel world.
In addition to having good intentions, one of the many things that sets humans apart from AI agents is our bodily connection to place. But we can also use our innate spatial abilities in digital spaces, a topic Alja explored in the blog post – and companion videoWelcome to the Tethix Archipelago: an experiment in using virtual spaces for learning and collaboration.

The digital tools we use every day in our practice are also digital places with their own stories. And sadly, the story we too often hear is the one of personal productivity, even competition. We wonder what our digital tools would look like if we shifted towards Collaborative Experience Design. Instead of having private sessions with ChatGPT, imagine what we could do if AI tools were designed to help us collaborate, connect, and develop shared understandings.

Instead, digital spaces often push us further from each other, disconnecting us from Earth wisdom. Virtual offices try to mimic physical offices we hate, instead of finding joy in designing for our imagination. We keep hearing echoes of the story of productivity and efficiency in the tools we reluctantly use to get the job done.

What gives us hope is that different stories are emerging all over the place. In Australia, the draft science and research priorities are sprinkled with sparks of magic. Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems, which include stories that have been situated in place and shaped by Country for 60,000+ years, are now being considered as a grounding for nationwide transformation over the next decade.

In response to this, Mat, Nate, and a couple of Australian colleagues proposed the Collective Futurecrafting Initiative. This proposal comes from a deep consideration for systemic interconnectedness, planetary boundaries, as well as care for local communities and human thriving. It comes from a place that is existentially hopeful, and our attempt at Rising to the biggest challenge of our time: Australia’s duty of care to collectively re-imagine and re-design our nation.

Earth seeds to ground you in Research

Graphic comparing agile and waterfall as fire-focused practices vs Elemental Ethics, where the four elements intersect in four circles.
And while we love telling stories around the campfire, we also find immense value in grounding ourselves in research from different disciplines. Nate takes a closer look at the assumptions behind the Agile Manifesto in the blog post Beyond the Agile Manifesto: A new paradigm for responsible product development. On the RSA blog, Nate also writes about Three reasons why AI ethics is struggling and explores how we might close the ethical intent to action gap by drawing inspiration from a model from the cognitive sciences.

The RSA is the royal society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures and commerce. It’s a non-profit with a 260 year history, and its mission is about design for life. Nate is one of over 30,000 global fellows working across disciplines to support regenerative initiatives that bring human life back within planetary boundaries, whilst also raising the social ceiling for those who need it most. Their vitality scale towards a regenerative world is definitely worth checking out (Nate has already suggested a few potential improvements). If you prefer to tune in with your ears, the RSA Podcast offers excellent seeds of inspiration, such as the special series episode on Future Dreaming.

We were also excited to read about the emerging Scientific Consensus on Post-Growth over Green Growth – the story of unlimited growth (in the ways we currently think about it) no longer makes sense. In fact, it hasn’t since the 70s! This podcast covering the story of the Limits to Growth is worth listening to as well.

And we have to be mindful of the stories we tell. Recent research shows the impact of imagined future events on our brain. Considering the swathe of dystopian imagery in our media and memescape, this hints at the neurological basis for our struggle to imagine techno-moral futures that are more positive. To help us widen the space of possible futures – and improve our collective futurecrafting –, we might use frameworks like the Futures Cone to increase the vividness of what’s possible and thus make preferable futures more probable.

Water seeds to deepen your Reflection

Illustration of Alice reading the book The Wisdom of Wilderland while immersed in purple water, with a rainbow serpent and other symbols floating above her head.
In tech, dystopian Black Mirrors dominate our imagined futures. We would like to challenge this view with rainbow mirrors, as Mat explores in the blog post Rainbow mirrors: technology and our collective moral imagination. We need to imagine alternatives that aren’t all doom and gloom, which is why we enjoyed tuning in the Creating the Alternative episode of the Planet Critical podcast, and reading the post The Gift of Being Human by Planet Critical’s host Rachel Donald.

And if you’re ready to venture deeper into the ponds of reflection, be sure to join Alice in her Wilderland adventures in the post Composing a symphony of hope in a sea of crises and complexity. Or grab your headphones and take a music break with Mat’s hip-hop track – and accompanying poetic interpretation – AI Inside.

We assure you there’s a method to our madness, and we explore said method in the blog post For the love of wisdom: An overview of the philosophy that gives life to Tethix.

And remember that it’s not all philosophy and tech. We encourage you to seek awe in your life, with something as simple as a walk in the woods. Or browsing through a resource like the Iconographic Encyclopædia of Science, Literature, and Art.

Tethix Moonthly Meme

Drake reaction meme about the state of responsible tech.

Your turn, Pathfinders.

If anything emerges while reading this Newmoonsletter, write it down. If it feels right, find the Reply button 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, and be mindful about the seeds of intention you plant and the stories you tell. There’s magic in both.

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

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