MysTech Newsletter, February 2023
The Gates of Hell, modeled 1880–1917, cast 1926–28, by Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917) https://rodinmuseum.org/collection/gates-hell
Newsletter on the Mysteries of Technology
Here we are already into the second month of 2023! This year will be a dynamic one filled with opportunities and challenges for our spirit and soul as well as the material world. MysTech hopes to provide you with inspiring articles, informative webinar experiences, and cutting edge study materials based on Rudolf Steiner lectures which will support you all year long.
You will find in this newsletter:
Some thoughts by Frank Dauenhauer regarding Intelligent Rationale versus Critical Thinking and how we might want to be more critical of technology, like OpenAI’s product, ChatGPT, and its potential effects.
An article on Siegfried Finser’s project: 21st Century in Fund Raising, An Experiment in Leveraging Technology.
A review of Mary Stewart Adams December Webinar, plus our list of past webinars which are now available for replay.
You will want to mark your calendar for webinars that are coming in future months.
Our featured artist, potter Joan Newton and her passion for working with clay.
And…Don’t forget to join one of our Study Courses to be starting in Spring.
If you have written an article you would like to share with the community or have any feedback we look forward to hearing from you.
Late Winter Tidings,
Your MysTech Newsletter Team
and the end of
Are we on the cusp of Intelligence eradicating critical thinking?
Critical thinking is defined as disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence. It is, perhaps, what most of us aspire to, and perhaps we even believe it is what we are doing most of the time. But is it?
How one views and thinks about the world around them is a touchy subject that many want to avoid with each other and even, sometimes, within oneself. This avoidance is not so much based on a conscious, intelligent rationale as it is on the avoidance of critical thinking. In the ideal world, we would always investigate a subject with an open mind – setting aside our preconceptions and preferences that might cloud our vision. But how often do we take the time to do so? In fact, intelligence is not a reliable safeguard in this respect, for someone who is intelligent, according to the definition, has a high mental capacity and is quick to understand. That might easily become a tendency to think quickly, rather than thoroughly. It has been said that thinking is an action, while critical thinking is a skill. Having a capacity is not the same thing as using it.
For instance, an intelligent argument can be made that digital technology works to everyone’s benefit, whereas, when critical thinking is applied to the same argument, the conclusion could be that those benefits are in some cases superficial and are in most cases weighted heavily towards a few. The intelligent argument in response could be that of course the benefit would mostly side with the few because of the work and risk required to build such a technology. The critical thinker could then argue that what is important is not so much the risk involved but the monetary value of the data and the influence and control of that data that it affords its backers. The intelligent argument could continue by saying that the data collected is used only for improving services and providing more options for the end user. The critical thinker could return an argument by saying that those improved services and other options are to reach and harvest even more data from end users, in order to lock in their dependency upon that technology.
The above example of intelligent rationale and critical thinking may sound a lot like one being optimistic where the other is pessimistic but consider also that the issue may be compounded with the fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of good and evil. People naturally want to see goodness where Evil exists whereas Evil wants you to see evil where Goodness exists. The intelligent argument may weave in an acknowledgement of some of the critical thinking argument but may ultimately, only recognize goodness as the end result, at the same time admonishing the critical thinker’s core analysis and banishing him to irrelevance.
An intelligent sounding argument can be spun to ease anyone’s choices in a desired direction BUT applying critical thinking…this can be uncomfortable and difficult to work through. Critical thinking can lead to conclusions that one may not want to confront. Conclusions, today, that may very well threaten one’s standing in society — even one’s physical life.
One could say that critical thinking in humanity is at a threshold of sorts, and isn’t it interesting that at this very point there is OpenAI? What could be the intelligent argument for OpenAI? Would it acknowledge the critical arguments but still conclude with the overwhelming goodness of it? Is resistance futile? Are we heading to making critical thinking socially unacceptable, even illegal?
OpenAI’s product, ChatGPT, is already anticipated to replace journalists and staff at news agencies, some of which have indicated that they will soon be using artificial intelligence exclusively to write their news articles. Often, the psychological intention behind news article headlines is to entice the reader to mentally ingest the words and have a reaction to them, even if one does not read the entire article. This manipulative technique can easily subvert one’s critical thinking capacity, and is now being ceded to Artificial Intelligence. That OpenAI’s chatbot is able to do this, has been made possible by 25 year of harvesting data from web browsing, phone data, social media data, biometric apps, voice activation apps, etc. Essentially, every single device that has the capacity to transmit data has contributed to the OpenAI effectiveness. It is now prepared to serve up contextual information that is sure to influence one’s behavior in a direction it is programed to dictate, that is if it is not constructing an Intelligent rationale of its own directed outcome. OpenAI is on course to provide tools that we will all depend on in a relatively short time, whether we know it or not. This will be to the detriment of our freedom of movement, choice, and thought, if critical thinking – right now – is not applied to its use. OpenAI is by no means the only obstacle placed before us to which we need to apply critical thinking, but it is one that has presented itself right at this moment in time. To be sure, we have many others that are heading our way and it goes without saying that we should all continue to find the goodness in the Evil that confronts us but only through the lens of critical thinking, otherwise we may be fooled to seeing only evil where [at least some] goodness is actually present.
The Battle of the
and the end of
OpenAI: Our mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.
OpenAI is an American artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory consisting of the non-profit OpenAI Incorporated (OpenAI Inc.) and its for-profit subsidiary corporation OpenAI Limited Partnership (OpenAI LP).
OpenAI, according to its mission statement,
…conducts AI research to promote and develop friendly AI in a way that benefits all humanity.
There is, in the above statement, a wonderfully comforting phrase that one might want to accept at face value, if one were looking for “an intelligent rationale”: “friendly AI…benefits all humanity”. But the critical thinker might dig a little deeper, and in doing so, will find that the term, “friendly AI” was “coined to discuss superintelligent artificial agents that reliably implement human values”.
The critical thinker will have many questions, such as:
Which of their values?
Is it not true that values are often different in different places? And even within one culture, might they be competing or even contradictory depending upon the context?
And how do we react when we read that the word ‘friendly’ is used in this context not in the way that we think of it, but as technical terminology, meaning that the researchers, programmers, and possibly the directors of these organizations “pick out ‘agents’ that [they believe] are safe and useful.” What is being glossed over here is that choices are being made by human beings who, being human, are indeed, using “human values” in the programming. But do we really have any idea what those values are? And if they were the very highest values and very best intentions, should the world feel confident that this time, there would be no unintended negative consequences?
As the tech-connected world is excitedly interacting with OpenAI’s product, ChatGPT, are those individuals seeking a “rationale” to justify acceptance of this new, sparkling, tool/toy? Or are they engaging critical thinking capacities?
Ask yourself when was the last time that one size fit all, and whether one approach — especially by a machine(s) — could possibly benefit all of humanity? Those of you who meditate might want to work with the words and images that arise when contemplating their publicly stated mission and logo. Those who work with eurythmy might have insights from working with the sounds. MysTech would love to hear from you about any thoughts, imaginations, inspirations or intuitions you would be willing to share.
21st Century Fund Raising
An Experiment in
Siegfried Finser has gone where few Anthroposophists have gone before – into cyberspace bordering on the realm of virtual reality. Through a process of discovery, facilitated by a group of next-generation Anthroposophists, he has launched a new experiment using blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. As in the past, when he founded the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, Siegfried is experimenting in the realm of financial threefolding for the benefit of the community and hopes to set an example for others to follow.
Always looking for ways to raise money for Waldorf schools and other anthroposophical initiatives, when he learned about NFT’s (Non-Fungible Tokens). Siegfried decided to figure out how this new on-line form of ownership could be used to transfer monetary value to organizations in need of financial support. Inspired by the model of the ubiquitous “Holiday Fairs” and the way parents, students and supporters of all sorts donate their artistic products, he saw the possibility that some of that creativity might be turned into NFT’s. He also felt that it could be more than just a new way to monetize the generosity of those artists in the short-term, but also a way to provide long-term support by way of increased visibility, enhanced cultural understanding, and inclusivity.
It took a year but the web page was finally built using Opensea as a platform to list the NFTs. Siegfried and his small group of advisors opted for Ethereum as the operational platform and Coinbase as the Exchange and Wallet.
AnthroArts is open for business. At this time, the collection can be found here at: https://opensea.io/collection/anthroarts What you will see are his own paintings, shown in one-of-a-kind configurations with different colored borders. An interested buyer will need a cryptocurrency wallet to enter into the market. Upon making the purchase, the “unlockable content” that goes with the image will become available to the purchaser, along with the satisfaction of participating and donating. But a word of warning – getting set up to transact in the world of crypto may be a challenge for some.
Siegfried Finser told MysTech:
My sincerest wish is that these NFTs collaborate with that spirit in whose imagination we now live. May they circulate around the globe and be a kind of spiritual antidote or talisman for all of us who will no doubt have to endure the consequences of so much overwhelming technology in the future. May they help to strengthen our inner forces to meet this outer challenge. I leave the determination as to whether what I have done is good or evil to the judgement of the spirit of our time whom we know is not so much interested in our good intentions as he is in the results of our deeds. He is a being of consequence, the living spirit of tough love.
World Economy – Lecture XII 4 August 1922
Speaking of money, the first thing we have to deal with is ordinary purchase-money — the money we use to buy anything which serves us for consumption. But we must also consider what we may call loaned money. This we have seen in a former lecture. The question now is: Bearing in mind its connection with the whole economic process, is loaned money quite the same as purchase-money? If you are considering purchase-money you will have to ask: How does purchase-money come into existence among all the other elements of buying and selling? ….
Lastly we must pass from loaned money to the third kind of money which I mentioned a few days ago. Nowadays as a general rule it is not taken into account and yet it plays the greatest imaginable part in the economic process. In fact, we must now pass on from loaned money to gift-money. Gift-money, fundamentally speaking, is all that is spent on education.
Mary Stewart Adams and The Stars Spoke Once to Man
Christmas 2022 was the 100-year anniversary of when Rudolf Steiner gave Marie Steiner this beautiful verse:
The Stars spoke once to Man,
It is World Destiny
That they are silent now.
To be aware of this silence
Can become pain for earthly humanity;
But in the deepening silence
There grows and ripens
What Man speaks to the stars.
To be aware of this speaking
Can become strength for Spirit Man.
MysTech invited Mary Stewart Adams to speak, in honor of this anniversary. On December 11, 2022, Mary asked the question: Why did Steiner give this verse at just that time? And in answer, she presented Marie Steiner’s life as seen through the lens of astrology and anthroposophical biography. Gradually, the audience is brought to an understanding of how this verse may be understood as the precedent to the Foundation Stone Meditation.
Rudolf Steiner often said that it was Marie von Sivers’ question that allowed the spiritual door to be opened for him to bring Anthroposophy into the world. She was essential to the founding of the original Anthroposophical Society when Steiner broke away from the Theosophical Society and she played a key role when the Society was eventually dissolved and re-established. These aspects of Marie Steiner’s karmic relationship to Anthroposophy are public knowledge. But with her deep understanding of the stars, Mary Stewart Adams guides us to the startling conclusion that Marie was also connected, in some way, by her personal destiny, to the burning of the first Goetheanum, which happened one week after Rudolf Steiner gave her the “Stars” verse as a gift, at Christmas, in 1922.
The picture that Mary Stewart Adams paints in her presentation begins with Marie’s birth chart – the location of the sun, moon, planets, and stars at the time Marie von Sivers was born. It is the moon’s nodes, we are told, that indicate what forces are brought with the incarnating individual, to help her on her destiny path, and we see that path clearly through Mary’s eyes. She points us to Steiner’s lecture, Man as Hieroglyph of the Universe, Lecture 4, 16 April, 1920 [link https://rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA201/English/RSP1972/19200416p01.html] where he outlines the importance of the rhythm of the moon in a person’s life. It returns to its original location in the stars at time of birth, after eighteen years and seven months, in recurring cycles:
18 years and 7 months – first return
37 years and 2 months – second return
55 years and 9 months – third return
Rudolf Steiner tells us that the nights passed during these times are the most important nights in the life of the individual. In the case of Marie Steiner, this could not be more true. At Christmas 1922, Marie Steiner was 55 years and 9 months old, a fact of which Steiner would have been fully aware.
In this short review, it is not possible to bring all the interesting bits of star lore and insights into the world and history of anthroposophy that Mary shares. It would be well-worth your time to listen to the presentation in which she also points at the future: 2033, when we will be at another significant centenary. It will be the hundred-year anniversary of that significant year — 1933 — the time when Steiner said people would begin to see Christ in the etheric, and the time when he warned of a great danger to humanity. In 2033, we are forewarned, the vernal full moon (also called the Paschal full moon) will be eclipsed. This will be only two weeks after an eclipse of the sun that will happen on March 30, 2033: March 30, the date of Steiner’s death. Tune in and listen to the end, to hear Mary’s interpretation of these events in the sky. Perhaps the stars are trying to speak again.
To access the replay of this webiner: https://mystech.org/events-all/the-stars-spoke-once-to-man/
Mary Stewart Adams is a Star Lore Historian and the host of the weekly public radio podcast The Storyteller’s Night Sky. In 2011 she established one of the world’s first International Dark Sky Parks, and in 2021 published the book The Star Tales of Mother Goose. Mary met the work of Rudolf Steiner simultaneous to encountering ancient star wisdom in the 1980s, which was galvanized into a life path through encounter with astrosopher Hazel Straker in 1995. Mary serves on the board of the Great Lakes Branch of the Anthroposophical Society and has recently joined the Anthroposophical Society in America’s council.
MysTech Webinar Series 2023
Each month MysTech will be offering a free (donations accepted) webinar for you on important issues of our times.
A recording of past webinars can be found here: https://mystech.org/events where you first register. A link will then be sent to you via email to complete your registration. This is done to provide time for consciousness in the process, gratitude to all the human and elemental beings involved in bringing the content to participants, and to encourage the donations needed to sustain this effort.
Looking Forward - Upcoming Webinars
Eugene Schwartz with host Andrew Linnell – Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 8 pm EST.
How will the new AI (ChatGPT) affect Education and especially Waldorf Education? Does Cyber Civics need to evolve? What will this mean for teacher reports to parents and to administrations? Are there counterbalances?
REGISTRATION WILL OPEN SOON
PAST PROGRAMS FROM 2022
Mary Stewart Adams – Sunday, December 11, 2022 @ 8pm EST
This Christmas 2022, will be the 100-year anniversary of when Rudolf Steiner’s gave Marie Steiner the verse The Stars Spoke Once to Man on Christmas Day 1922.
Mary will lead us through an imagination on how this verse can be experienced as a precedent for the Foundation Stone Meditation that was first spoken by Rudolf Steiner one year later, on Christmas Day 1923. As spiritual scientists and researchers of the mysteries, we will look as well into the star picture that appears overhead each year at this time, how it is uniquely activated through planetary rhythms, and how this can deepen our inner knowing and sense of speaking with the stars.
Theodor Hundhammer interviews Andrew Linnell – Friday, November 25, 2022 at 1pm EST
Monique Pommier – Friday, December 2, 2022 at 7:30pm EST
In four presentations based on her book Harmony, the heartbeat of creation, Monique Pommier shares a path to the primal pattern of nature’s forms, which she uncovered while inquiring into the mystery of number 12. What emerges from looking at the forms of nature with an eye for their hidden sameness is the archetypal pattern of the spherical vortex. The kinship of this pattern with Steiner’s lemniscate lights up the inner dynamic of “consciousness” common to all forms of being. It also imbues our awareness of the day/night and earthly/cosmic cycles of the human “I” with a new quality of intimacy with the spirit world.
Robert Filocco – Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 2pm EST
In this presentation, three areas of the phenomenon will be touched on, the technological, intrapsychic and ontological/spiritual. Special focus will be on the so-called abduction literature. Similarities between what Steiner called Ahrimanic and Luciferic beings and the appearance and apparent agendas of UFO beings will be explored via quotes from Steiner and modern-day experiencers.
Art is for Every Day!
Art is necessary to our well being. To enjoy art and practice some form of art in our daily lives gives us a lift in our souls.
I have been making pottery for over forty years. This art form gives me the opportunity to create in shape, texture and color. It’s an “earthy” experience and satisfyingly messy. I love to make the shapes, and I aim for a harmonious interaction between clay and glaze. Enjoying the feel of the clay and the visual feedback, I sense part of myself flowing into the forming process and guiding the finishing details. This is a contemplation that is deeply nourishing.
For years I wondered where my “style” came from—why certain kinds of shapes held greater appeal for me and showed up consistently in my work. When I visited the island of Crete and saw Minoan pottery for the first time, I noticed that my shapes were similar to those of this ancient period. I felt that an echo of the forms and mood of the Minoan pottery was present in my work.
My current work in clay includes wheel thrown forms as well as hand built, textured trays and vases. Website: joan-newton-pottery.com
Joan Newton was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Voice and Comparative Literature. Moving to Los Angeles, she began teaching private voice lessons and became acquainted with Highland Hall Waldorf School through one of her students. Here Joan recognized her calling. She enrolled her children in the school, completed the teacher training at the Waldorf Institute of Southern California and taught music at Highland Hall for twenty years, making pottery mostly during the summers. After a few more years of teaching and mentoring in the Los Angeles area, she retired from formal teaching. She now lives in Boise, Idaho where she leads a children’s Christmas choir and continues to create in ceramics.
MysTech Study Courses
Consider Joining A Course Group This Spring
Spotlight on The First Course
MysTech intends to cultivate the ground both in the human soul and in industry whereby a healthy Man-Machine relationship can be realized. Toward that Anthroposophical goal, MysTech intends to establish a research and development center. In support of our research goal, MysTech offers educational programs such as these study courses as well as periodic webinars, an annual conference, and other events. All seeking spiritual science with such a goal are welcome.
In this newsletter we would like to put a spotlight on: The First Course. The First Course takes up the theme of the changes in our workforce that will lead to unemployment. Much has been invested into artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics for decades. Since the 1900s and the Industrial Revolution, machines have performed work that humans would have done. This has allowed our industries to be far more productive and society to have far more of its needs and desires met. As technology evolves, will these benefits continue?
There are 7 courses underway. Each is 12 weeks long. Interest in this course comes from around the world so, this term, two classes are held on Wednesdays, one at 13:30 ET (18:30 GMT) and the other at 20:30 ET (5:30 pm PT). New classes will commence the first week of April.
In The First Course we discuss forecasts by Rudolf Steiner including the following: “Motors can be set in motion, into activity, by an insignificant human influence through a knowledge of the corresponding curve of oscillation. By means of this principle it will be possible to substitute merely mechanical forces for human forces in many things…..Mechanistic occultism will not only render it possible to do without nine-tenths of the labor still performed at present by human hands but will give the possibility also of paralyzing every uprising attempted by the then dissatisfied masses of humanity. The capacity to set motors in motion according to the laws of reciprocal oscillations will develop on a great scale among the English-speaking peoples. This is known in their secret circles and is counted upon as the means whereby the mastery over the rest of the population of the earth shall be achieved even in the course of the fifth post-Atlantean cultural age.” –
The Challenge of the Times, lecture 3. 1Dec1918, GA 186
For more information on The First Course and the other six: https://mystech.org/study-courses