Embodied Ethics in The Age of AI
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Embodied Ethics in The Age of AI

A co-learning journey with The Emerald Podcast’s Josh Schrei

+ Special Guests Mara Zepeda, Elena Lake Polozova, Turquoise Sound, Sara Jolena Wolcott, Evan Sharp, Michael Garfield, Andrew Dunn

🗺️ Online

🎟️ Buy course here

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✨ TL;DR

Inspired by The Emerald Podcast’s groundreaking episode on AI, this course is for anyone interested in the relationship between business, technology, ethics, myth and ritual.

People from all walks of life — engineers and founders, educators and artists, coaches and ritualists — will learn valuable new perspectives and practices.

Over five weeks of talks, co-learning sessions, and online discourse, you’ll join course leaders formerly of Meta, Center for Humane Technology, and Santa Fe Institute to:

  • Study what diverse societies through history can teach us in the modern era about power, technology, responsibility, and living in right relationship
  • Make connections and engage in stimulating discourse with dozens of insightful students and teachers, with a diverse range of backgrounds from responsible AI and ML research to ethics coaching and youth embodiment education
  • Apply new insights and practices to your life, organization, and projects
  • Develop a more grounded, curious, and proactive stance toward technological innovation
  • Exercise better solo and group sense-making for our era of exponential change

🪄 Context & Intention

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This Moment Asks Us To Look Deeper The rapid evolution of AI has prompted widespread discourse about the benefits and risks of transformative technologies, the nature of intelligence, and how to better wield and regulate accelerating innovation. But when policymakers can’t keep track of all the change and tech companies are slaved to relentless market pressures, ethics cannot simply be imposed from above. This moment asks us to look deeper into how human beings throughout history have constructed individual, ecological, and societal frameworks for using power wisely.
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Engaging In More Holistic Sensemaking Last year storyteller Josh Schrei’s podcast episode ‘So You Want to Be a Sorcerer in the Age of Mythic Powers’ challenged listeners to explore AI through the lenses of myth, magic, and ritual. But it’s one thing to read and listen to these explorations, and another to engage in them together. The time has come for us to engage in more deliberate and holistic sense-making about the roles of initiation, accountability, long-term thinking, and ethical design in an age where thoughts almost instantly become things.
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Developing Personal Practices & Communal Frameworks Core human drives animate our urge to tinker with the world: the longing for mystery, a yearning for guidance and initiation. When we understand the deeper forces at play, we can begin to establish personal practices and communal frameworks that temper such drives and give them structures for healthy expression. Which can change how we live, how we practice, how we start and run companies, and even how we code.
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Matching Power With Wisdom In this five-part course hosted by Wise Innovation Project, Josh and special guests will explore what it means to adapt at every level, individual and collective, to an era of exponential technology “indistinguishable from magic.” How to navigate the complexity of this century with head and heart, and wield our powerful tools with wisdom.

✅ Enrollment

This course was offered live in Spring 2024. You may purchase course recordings here, which gives you access to five pre-recorded lectures with Josh, four talks with special guests, five office hours and a community forum to discuss and connect with other students.

Want a preview? You can watch a couple of guest recordings here.

Want your team or organization to experience the course together? Please get in touch!

AI art by Alexander Beiner
AI art by Alexander Beiner

📚 Embodied Ethics Curriculum

Toggle each heading for more details:

Part 1: The Mythic Implications of AI (4/18)

With the rise of AI we are entering an era whose only corollary is the stuff of fairy tales and myths. Powers that used to be reserved for magicians and sorcerers — the power to access volumes of knowledge instantaneously, to create fully realized illusory otherworlds, to deceive, to conjure, to transport, to materialize on a massive scale — are no longer hypothetical. The age of metaphor is over. The mythic powers are real. Are human beings prepared to handle such powers?

In this first part of our course, we’ll explore the rise of AI through the mythic framework and look at the deeper drives underpinning AI development.

Part 2: Individual Initiation in the Age of AI (4/25)

What does it mean to be personally prepared to be working with powerful technology? In traditional cultures and knowledge systems there was an initiatory process through which potentially world-altering knowledge was embodied slowly over time. Individuals who were entrusted to wield such power were expected to go through a process of initiation, tempering, and slow, gradual learning to ensure that they could handle such power. This went far beyond what is now covered in a modern-day tech ethics course and involved a deep process of building relationality and dismantling egoic drives.

This portion of the course will explore what a process of individual initiation and tempering might look like in the modern world.

Part 3: Ecologies of Accountability (5/2)

How can embodied accountability be instituted on a company-wide and society-wide scale? What does it mean to communally embody ethics? In many traditional systems, individual achievement is less important than relationality and the ecology of the whole has precedent over the wants of the individual. Therefore, many traditional cultures see the world not in terms of what we are permitted to do but what we are required to do — not in terms of freedom but in terms of responsibility.

This segment explores what an ecology of responsibility looks like, and how we might structure our companies and tech environments to foster accountability, relationality, and sustainability over time.

Part 4: Re-prioritizing Slow Growth (5/9)

When confronted with the suggestion that AI developers might consider slowing down a bit in their rush to get new technologies to market, the response is often — ‘that’s impossible — market forces and international competition won’t allow for it.’ And yet a consistent voice that encourages individual and societal slowdown is deeply important. A culture that unleashes new unproven technologies with no planning beyond next quarter is not only flirting with potentially catastrophic consequences but is also ensuring that their innovations won’t last. Slowdown is how we guarantee longevity. But what does slowing down actually mean? It’s not always as dramatic as we think.

This portion of the course will cast a new light on how slowing down — both individually and collectively — is how systems that actually stand the test of time are built.

Part 5: Towards Embodied Intelligence (5/16)

Tech companies have put forward the proposition that intelligence, once fully realized, will solve everything. Yet intelligence as it is defined in the tech world — computational capability — does not solve anything meaningful in and of itself. Intelligence with no anchor to practice, to relationality, or to living systems remains an abstraction, and there are tangible consequences to constructing our lives and our educational systems around abstracted intelligence. What would it mean to redefine intelligence? What would it look like to build relationality and accountability into the technologies themselves?

This final portion of the course explores how the tech itself can come to embody ethics, and how rethinking the way we approach and interface with tech will determine how it can be integrated into our lives harmoniously rather than disruptively.

🧑‍💻 Meet Your Course Leaders

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Joshua Michael Schrei (Teacher) is the founder and host of The Emerald podcast, which draws from a deep well of poetry, lore, and mythos to challenge conventional narratives on politics and public discourse, meditation and mindfulness, art, science, literature, and more. A writer, teacher, and a lifelong student of the cosmologies and mythologies of the world — in particular, the Indian subcontinent — Josh has sought to navigate the living, animate space of the imagination and advocate for a world that prioritizes imaginative vision. Josh has taught intensive courses in cosmology, mythology, and somatic disciplines for nearly 20 years.

Michael Gregory Garfield (Host) is the host of Future Fossils Podcast, a transdisciplinary discussion series exploring the edges of the known and knowable. Trained in paleontology before touring the world as an artist and musician, Michael joined The Santa Fe Institute in 2018 to host their flagship systems science podcast Complexity. He left academia for the second time in 2023 to work for a non-profit AI startup and write two books about the past and future of human-technology co-evolution. In his spare time he has released over 100 hours of original music for film, yoga, deep listening, and journeywork.

Elena Lake Polozova (TA) is a former machine learning engineer at Meta, turned private-practice bodyworker and student of the mythosomatic. She also has 6 years of experience in math, computer science, and physics academia, as well as deep inquiries into nature connection, emotional spaceholding, and dance. She’ll bring her interdisciplinary backgrounds across embodiment and technology to help answer your questions at office hours.

Andrew Murray Dunn (Director x Producer) is a student at the intersection of human development and innovation, currently focused on co-activating Wise Innovation Project. He works as a trans-disciplinary visionary and pollinator, helping people bring ideas to life in ways that are more awesome for all involved. Before serving as Innovation Lead at Center for Humane Technology, Andrew spent over 10 years in early stage startup operations experience, most notably with the pioneering Public Benefit Corporation Siempo while they developed an award-winning open source humane smartphone interface.

🎙️Special Guest Speakers

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Mara Zepeda Co-founder, Zebras Unite

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Turquoise Sound Leadership, Culture & Strategic Advisory

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Loretta Afraid of Bear Cook Lakota Grandmother & Faithkeeper

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Katsi Cook Saint Regis Mohawk Midwifery Activist

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Sara Jolena Wolcott Ecotheologist, Sequoia Samanvaya

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Evan Sharp Co-founder, Pinterest

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Beverly Kiohawiton Cook Chief on Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council

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Amelia Rose Barlow Impact Strategist

👀 Primers

Check out the following media artifacts for a taste of the course material:

🙋🏼‍♀️ FAQ

Who is this for?

  • Those moved by The Emerald x AI podcast and want to experience the deeper course version
  • Tech, business, and social change professionals in critical junctures of their development
  • Those who support such professionals: educators, facilitators, storytellers, coaches, therapists, healers, and related service providers
  • Those highly interested in this topic

What’s the time commitment like?

Up to you! You get what you put in, and we all get more when you participate more fully. And, it’s a busy season, we get it.

The main show is the five live lectures. Weekly office hours, guest interviews, and forum engagement are all extra.

Everything will be recorded, so asynchronous participation is possible if that’s what works best for you right now.

I can’t make these dates / times. Will you offer the course again?

All lectures will be recorded and shared with students and enrolling grants you access to 24/7 asynchronous discussion in a private forum. When we’ll host the course again is TBD.

Subscribe to Wise Innovation Project’s newsletter to be informed of upcoming offerings.

Are there any volunteer opportunities?

We would love your help — especially if you can help us design social media content or various other forms of art from our talks and other course materials. Please get in touch!

Is there a refund policy?

Yes. If you decide within the first week of enrollment, that Embodied Ethics is not a fit for you, just let us know and we'll refund your full payment, no questions asked.

How can I get in touch?

This course is the first major offering from Wise Innovation Project, an emerging non-profit initiative with a mission to re-imagine innovation education.

Sign up to stay in the loop about regular events for those interested in teaching and practicing more holistic ways of bringing ideas to life.

AI art by Alexander Beiner
AI art by Alexander Beiner