The Joyous Justice Podcast

Honoring Nature & Navigating Networks: Understanding ChatGPT through the Lens of Trees & Tu B'Shevat

February 09, 2023 April Baskin Episode 126
The Joyous Justice Podcast
Honoring Nature & Navigating Networks: Understanding ChatGPT through the Lens of Trees & Tu B'Shevat
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we dive into a unique and enriching conversation, blending the ancient wisdom of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of the Trees, with the cutting-edge realm of artificial intelligence technologies like ChatGPT and Lensa AI. 

Join us for a thought-provoking 'socratic seminar' style discussion as we explore the ethical dilemmas, biases, and potential impacts of AI on society, particularly in the context of social justice and diversity. 

  • How does AI measure up against the enduring wisdom of nature? 
  • What lessons can we learn from the natural world in our pacing and approach to the rapidly evolving AI landscape?

This episode is not just a discussion; it's an insightful journey through the intersection of natural traditions and digital advancements. Tune in for a rich and engaging exploration of how to navigate the AI era with the rootedness and thoughtfulness mirrored in the growth of trees.

Embrace the challenge of balancing tech trends with tree traditions, and discover the unexpected insights this juxtaposition reveals. Subscribe now and join us in co-creating a future that harmonizes the wisdom of the past with the innovations of the present!

 #JoyousJustice #NatureMeetsTech #AI #TuBShevat #NatureWisdom #EmergentStrategy

This week, we put Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of the trees, in conversation with AI (artificial intelligence) technologies like ChatGPT and Lensa AI. We weigh in on this debate (or socratic seminar, as April calls it) and think about our pacing as AI becomes an increasingly bigger part of our lives. 

Explore ChatGPT:

Find Jo Kent Katz’ website here:

Learn more about Ricardo Levins Morales:

Learn more about Aurora Levins Morales:

Listen to our episode titled “Slow, deep, irreversible”:

Discussion and reflection questions:

  1. What in this episode is new for you? What have you learned and how does it land?
  2. What is resonating? What is sticking with you and why?
  3. What feels hard? What is challenging or on the edge for you?
  4. What feelings and sensations are arising and where in your body do you feel them?

Visit to learn more about Joyous Justice, LLC, our team, and  get connected &  involved in our community!

Join our online community:

Submit a question, insight, or topic or guest suggestion at

Find April’s TikTok videos here:

Follow us on Instagram (@joyous.justice), Twitter, (@JoyousJustice), or Facebook (

This week, we put Tu B'Shevat, the New Year of the trees in conversation with chat GPT and other AI or artificial intelligence tools that have been making the rounds and social media and headlines lately. You're listening to the Joyce justice podcast, a weekly show hosted by April Baskin with Tracy Decker. in a complex world in which systemic oppression conditions us to deny others and our own humanity. let's dedicate ourselves to the pursuit and embodiment of wholeness, love and thriving in the world and in our own lives. It's time to heal and flourish our way to a more joyous and just future. belated happy Tu B'Shevat Tracy and friends. Yeah, thanks. You too. Yeah, when this posts, although people might listen to this episode at any time, in which case, just happy day to you whatever day it is. We're happy evening, wherever you're tuning in. But in terms of our recording, and when this will initially be published, it's going to be published a few days after the holiday, the Jewish holiday have to be shot, the holiday that honors trees, and it's going to be sure more broadly, but specifically through honoring of trees, and all the many things they symbolize which are many around the world, and even within Judaism. It's a holiday that celebrates that. And traditionally, one of the ways of observing to be Shabbat is to have a tuba Shabbat Seder, a ceremonial, ritualized meal that involves different fruits and various rituals as a part of it of ways of honoring the different ways that trees enhance our lives. So I just wanted to identify that and I think there's like an interesting juxtaposition with the theme of tubers spot and what we're looking to talk about today, which is AI, specifically some of the hubbub around chat GPT. And I'd love to add some initial joyous justice, insights and thoughts into the mix, as well as some of the other reflections that I've heard and kind of just have a share some thoughts about that swirling, dynamic. And, to me, there's an interesting juxtaposition there inherently between like, the deeply unequivocally natural world and the very much not natural digital space of AI and also around speed and pacing, and, and timing. So So yeah, so before I start to dive into that, are there any additional things that you might want to say, Tracy, about our proximity to the holiday of two Bish spot? Oh, thank you. No, I don't think so. I think you covered it, I actually was really, I was leaning into. I wanted to define two terms, which maybe you were gonna get to, but one is AI, which stands for artificial intelligence. Thank you. And the other is this chat GBT, which weren't, before we hit record, we realized, like, I didn't know that's what it was called. But this is the specific form of artificial intelligence into which you can feed existing written documents and ask it to spit out a new written document. Well, I didn't even more than that, it's that it was so that thank you. And that segues us into this part of the conversation, it's that you can both get things to also just pulls all of the available, like open source information that's available on the planet online. So you could ask it to write an essay about feminist politics in 1695, in the south of France, and it will likely generate an essay for you and my first introduction to hearing about and I think they actually heard about Chet GPT before because I had I'd signed into it before so I guess I'd heard about some earlier iteration of it and tried it and have the experience that I've usually had the experience that I I've had every time I try artificial intelligence, which is that it turns out pretty mainstream stuff, which at times can be somewhat helpful, but for me, it's like oh, this is what's Alright, this is actually doesn't help me at all. And I know that when Sarah tried to enter some of our content in to pull some quotes, it wasn't able to do it. So you know, so as as so that's one of the first things I mean, one of multiple things to note about chat GBT that is It's limited in the way that money of the sources that it's that it's compiling are, are limited, right? You know, or, and also the weights creators at all, it also may reflect some of the challenges of its creators in the way in a different sort of way that certain cell phones are horrible at photographing or video, you know, getting video getting footage of dark skinned people, right, that doesn't include the full tone. And this is a little bit different. But similarly, that artificial intelligence can only use what is out in the ether. So, so in terms of the latest conversation that's been happening, one of my first introductions to it was from a post was was via a Facebook post from a rabbi who's the spouse of a friend of mine, and he was very, I would cite him out quote him, but I don't know if he's, I don't know if he's comfortable being quoted, I don't remember what the privacy settings were on this post. But he was extremely alarmed about this, he was alarmed about this as it related to his children, and how easy it would be to cheat on on essay assignments. And he also tested it around some Jewish content. And his colleagues had to, and they were blown away by the rabbinic by the sophisticated nature of what chat GPT delivered. And you know, I think, again, I'm liking using the word juxtaposing to it, you know, comparing this, you know, connecting this to what I was just saying a moment ago, to me with my knowledge base, I wonder if your mind is going there to like, what that immediately brings up for me is that, since Jews are not the only by our we consider ourselves the People of the Book and the written word. And Jews have been sharing online for a while now. And an Our religion is so heavily taxed, and discussion and debate based, and we've been targeted for destruction over the millennia, but in the time that the internet has been around, that has been a time of fairly good resourcing for our community, and tons of our responses and content is on is available online, as opposed to say, around like social justice or diversity, equity and inclusion where you have different leaders and activists who have varying levels actually, but at times, there's a disproportionate dynamic of disenfranchisement of lack of resourcing either by the people who are mostly directed, impacted, the folks who are leading the work who are most directly impacted, and even the folks who are resourced. They're countering all of the lack of resourcing. And there's, there's a backlog of things to do. And just generally, it would make, you know, or with dei professionals, that a number of us that's diversity, equity, inclusion or social change leaders, that there's not the equivalent in comparing just comparing these two from our Jewish vantage point of, of rabbinic social justice leaders who spend much of their career in a scholarly, spiritual pursuit of documenting. All that is happening. And so. So to me, there's just lots of layers of this that are interesting, where this rabbi was a bit concerned, you know, for multiple reasons, he was concerned about the ethics, one thing that he raised, that really resonated with me, in general, the post scared me a little bit like it was very compelling what he said. And I was also like, but this doesn't seem like the slant that I would ultimately take on on on this frame. But one thing that did bother me that I can't remember if he said directly, but it sort of came up is the dynamic around plagiarism, that for me, actually, if this, if this software is compiling lots of things, that's great, but where are the citations? Right? There's a there's a separate piece in terms of ethics about students, which I am that is equally important, although I'm a little less interested in that right now, because of some other facets of it that I want to talk about. And that doesn't directly impact me it to me in my mind and our work that we do in the world, although that affects a lot of institutions, but also from a learning like just so for ethics around it, you know, as as a company and as a community. And for me, personally as a leader and and I think you're deeply aligned with this Tracy, I always love to cite my sources whenever I can. And so that just seems like icky and unethical. Like, it's like, that's not okay. So, so that's concerning. And I could also see like, it might be a little bit of a conundrum in a way A lot of but even still, based upon that it's the technology, it should be able to do it because maybe it's drawing from multiple sources, maybe it has, like 1000 sources of the same thing, because it's because it's technology, it's a machine, you know, that it might be like this math, you know, but even still, it could, you could say, there's also the, you know, this is one sort, you know, there are 20, other 500,000 other sources that also speak to the French Revolution, or whatever it's talk, you know, you know, any number of random Jewish inquiry, you know, which hands should you use to take care of your personal hygiene after a morning prayer, like, I had a friend whose husband, like, look, eventually found something like, which hand should I know, to take care of business? Should I wipe myself with, right? Like, there's probably some Jewish text around this if I search, and he found it, and it was something about how you know, anyway, I don't remember the details. But there there was a Jewish response to this question. So anyway, so I think I want to so that sets the stage a little bit, and so on. And so as with a number of different things, you have this collective Socratic of sorts, more or less Socratic seminar happening around this conversation, where you have certain teachers, and clergy and people and copywriters, who for various reasons, both ethically and practically, in the context of their work, experience, various levels of alarm, and concern about this, whether it's related to the ethics down to self interest about the impact of this, and then you have folks like Gary Vee, and other people who are out there who are like super pro technology, and this is better. And, you know, since this is going to be a thing, like why have our kids waste their time, having to search for all these things when they can just find it on the internet. And it's really with like writing the essays, but getting certain answers to, you know, which, you know, like, so there's like all kinds of different debates swirling around that. In some ways, that's our old debates about technology and AI and artificial intelligence in general. And recently, in the lot more recent weeks, I've heard a couple like it started to die down like initially, you know, when it first came out, everyone was excited. But then as various folks like, black intellectuals, were coming online and saying, this, this isn't so helpful for me in terms of helping me with my copy in any way. And it was just kind of my experience of it. A few years ago, when I tried to input some have tried to use it to duplicate some of the things I've already written. And what it came back with was just like so not on brand, so lacked depth and sophistication. And then I've even heard like a number of white copywriters and marketing professionals say that, for certain creators, it can help you a little bit. But since this is now available, everyone's going to be using it. And so it has limited value, or lots of people are going to be using it. So it has limited value. And at the end of the day, original content is actually now especially going to be even more important to focus on and now here's the tricky part. I watched this video a few weeks ago, that kind of alarmed me. Like he was saying, and in sort of a good way, but it kind of went to that place of like, you know, helped me out here, which is like one of the high school books like Brave New World and like, you know, other sorts of dystopian realities like I think this dude who's like a super capitalist business guy, you know, I consume lots of different materials. And I can't remember what he was just talking about. He was sharing some information about what's like some of these tech races and what's happening right now around and the in the plans for how AI might be used. And it really, it alarm. I don't think he his his point was not to alarm people, but it alarmed me. In terms of what he was saying, and I remembered what this colleague of mine this rabbi had said, like I was beginning to feel in a different sort of way similar to the way he felt like, oh, this just doesn't like in my kitchen, because this is not Yikes. Like, you're saying like this is good. And to me, this is alarming and not not very justice oriented and party may don't remember the details, but it just had this like, it's going to be everywhere, and it's going to impact our lives. And I just remember thinking as I was thinking through it, and it was causing this, like slight mini existential crisis for me about like, what is going to happen and how does this impair or impact social justice issues and And in our capacity to make change around these things, and the place where I landed with it was, and I wonder if I could find it, maybe maybe that would be helpful. And it's weird though, because it's not like this is not a creator that, like, I'm willing to listen to anything, it's not like create, or that I'm looking to, like, endorse in any. You know, it was just like a dude talking, like I was trying to I was trying to get, you know, more info about different components of this and how it's being used and stuff. I spent a lot more time thinking about the AI, art, the image generators, than the text generators, they sort of made the rounds. That's another dynamic. Yeah, that's another dynamic coming up. Yeah. And that, really, that watching that sort of make the rounds among my circles, was really interesting. And some of the things that you said about the limits of the AI based on the limits of those who programmed it, I got a lot, I had several friends who are like, AI seems to want me to lose weight, because the images that like the self portraits that the AI was generating, were smaller than they are in, in, you know, IRL, in real life. And also, I had a couple of friends who are either black or multiracial, or, you know, who are black or brown, or identify as such an AI was making, I had one friend who was like aI thinks I'm a white woman, like I don't like she felt really put out. Because the I did not it lightened her skin and did not see her African heritage features. So those are sort of interesting, like, bolsters to what to all that you're saying about, you know, some of the limitations and, and some of the concerns about plagiarism also show up in the image spaces where, you know, it's been fair art from contemporary working artists, potentially as source material and just kind of rips them off. On the other hand, the one thing that I keep coming back to is that, like, just very concerning, so early in the development of this tool, that it's really hard to actually predict. I mean, there are indications that Socrates was sort of felt the same way about written language, because it would destroy memory, which we only know because our students wrote it down. Right, so I don't know it's i i see both huge potential, I see huge potential for both harm and improvement. And it's hard to say, which way will end up going? In part, because humans are so capable of both harm and help. So that's, that's where I am like, sort of straddling at the moment. Yeah, that's where I was, and one of my takeaways after watching this video, which I'm trying the realistically and once I found it, I would be like, do I really want to advertise that I watched this. But like, it wasn't, you know, it was over, you know, it was mediocre, but it was giving me background information. So anyway, so I'm going to stop searching for it. Yeah. And that's initially, roughly where I landed initially. And then after watching this video, where it shared some additional things that caused me to feel a bit alarmed about where it might be going, one of the things that provided great comfort, especially now being both very much still in process. And on the other side of the initial phase of my the work I've been doing around my coconut process around my coherent ordination and my indigenous coming home work and integration of different Well, spiritualities and ways of knowing one of my key takeaways of like, okay, this thing could end up being super powerful in various ways is that it doesn't operate within the realm of spirit, nor energy. The timing of your dog's barking right now. Feels very aligned. Like I don't necessarily have a perspective about what it means. But I think it's like the natural world like I think what's coming up is like the natural world being like Eff Yes, like speak it. Also maybe there was like the mailman outside your house, the mail person but mail delivery person but but that timing was just like, cool to me, like all of us sentient beings shall rise and that because in some ways it was, you know, I don't exactly but it was that like, people would be outpaced and I was concerned about this as it related to your point, the both in general like I generally land on positive frames and thinking that like that core theory that it doesn't take an equal amount of light, like Bud Light so quickly dispels darkness and all these different things right? So that is all still intact, but around this specific piece that was getting threatened a little bit. And then, but then I remembered even if certain things are being controlled, like basically like, it can't control God and spirit like and that that is something that I've been cultivating safety with. And it for the first time, more so than before. Like in the work I've been doing around this. It's been around reaching a point of feeling safe and fully valid and like I can be included for the fullness of my being and all the ways that I show up. But this this realization was like, Oh, this is actually like, it helps me see so clearly that in this hypothetical struggle of around for social justice and how AI may or may not play into that. That as it says on jokin CASAS website, they can't take our magic. And that was like one of the joyous justice pieces specifically were the big needs joyous justice piece that I was particularly excited to toss into toss into the mix. Yeah, I think that's that's, that really resonates, that really resonates. I do think there's things that we can learn from Ai, even, like even the images ones for this is like such a small thing. And I'm not exactly sure how it resonates. But it's coming up for me. So I I'll share it. The lens or AI, which is the one that were sort of making the rounds on social media a few weeks ago, I played with it, and you know, uploaded a bunch of selfies, and then it spit out, you know, me as a fairy princess and me as a, as a sci fi hero or whatever. And, and I have a lot of fun with it. And one of the things that was like an interesting takeaway for me. So I was born with a cross a lazy eye, right, and I've had multiple surgeries and whatever. And it is the thing that I'm very self conscious about in my looks, I'm very self conscious about my iCrossing and AI, the AI, whatever the engine, saw that cross AI and included it in many of the like, paintings, the so called painting the digital paintings that it created of me. And it was really interesting for me to see that and still be like, Wow, this is gorgeous. Like, I love the way I look in this AI rendering of me, even with the cross eye. And it wasn't even like a despite it was like a part of the whole picture. And that was interesting mirror for me that I don't like I don't see in photographs of myself. Like if I see if I if there's a photograph and my eyes crossing in the photo. I'm like, okay, use that one. immediately dismiss it. And something about the nature of the AI rendering. Still including the art. Yeah, but the AI created. Yeah, and I'm not exactly sure what I'm taking away from that. But it was just like, it's a moment of like, that was an interesting reflection back at myself. That was a little different than the folks who were like, Why is AI making me? You know, airbrushing these change? You're thinner than I am exactly, or lighter than I am or whatever, right? Different? Yes, it's up there. So that's sort of an interesting, which, again, may speak to the programmers, right? Like the programmers who did it may, if one of them had had the same congenital condition that I have, they may have programmed it to, like, align pupils, if you know, for the rendered thing, but that for whatever reason, that bias wasn't baked into the programming. I don't know, I'm not sure where I'm going with this. So I apologize for that. For that. No, nothing to apologize for. And I think, yeah, you know, it's, I think it's Yeah, so I just think it's helpful for us to track these different things and the choices we're making and how it lands with us in different ways. You know, like for us on our you know, in terms of my content production I've encouraged my colleague, my assistant Sarah to, to use it to see if it could help us save time and summarizing our content or, or doing different or helping us, reef angle different things and it wasn't very helpful, which I've heard from other social justice and bipoc creators that they had a similar experience and I I personally opted not to use the lensa. It was interesting for me because it, I intuitively felt weary of it. And then as I read the articles, I was like, oh, yeah, that tracks like, I don't want it having my data, which is like somewhat arbitrary in the context of all the things that have my data. But there was something about it, where I was like, I don't want it to have my data. And I was really curious. And then, as I read, as you did, the discussions about it, taking people's artwork. I didn't like that. And so I abstained from it in solidarity with artists and spend time thinking about, like, for me, and also, I think, for others, like noticing the desire to see what I would look like, and just thinking about the ways in at times that we don't value art, you know, and and how much people really enjoy that when this machine was stealing people's artwork or taking like, I don't even like is it stealing? Like, I think there's like a really interesting conversation to have there but, and harming folks who are systemically oppressed in our society who are under resource which generally many artists are and aren't respected in the context of it, it contradicting or not, usually sometimes, but in general, it contradicting different forms of systemic oppression, either by having being in conversation with it or not, you know, being less focused on the production and profit and different things like that. And seeing how much joy it brought people and and having a desire for that, but like, wondering, like, what was aI doing with my face? Was his lens of thing going to do with my likeness? And and also, then, when I read about that, feeling hurt on behalf of different creators whose stuff it was taking? And so I think something that I think we're modeling here that I think is helpful in this conversation is an in any conversation, where, where, where there are multiple threads of like, how do we, how do we stay in it? And how do we track these different things and be in an ongoing dialogue about like, what we're seeing and the choices were making and where we're landing with it, and just staying open to listening to each other and accounting for these different variables. And I think a theme that came up and some of what you said that I really aligned with about it is, how can we track it be mindful? And stay? That's sort of what I guess that's what I'm further clarifying. When I say stay in a place of awareness that's not anchored in fear. How do we how do we stay anchored in our agency around it, even as certain things are moving quickly? And how do we maintain connection and relationship with those who matter most around it even as we may have different analyses and just keep it like how do we continue to evolve and stay in that place, which I think is a common theme throughout all of our work? Yeah. Yeah, I think that's well said. So I think there's probably some like fun quip here that I'm not sure what it is. So I just think this convert I think, or like, I guess I'll just try it. I have no idea where this is going. But so with all of that being said, I think tree medicine is helpful here. And that great progress is made over time. Yeah, you're laughing back. Yeah. I was like, I want to tell you go I was laughing. I was like, you know that like as I'm talking about this, as I think about trees, and their deep roots, and the length of time it takes them to grow. I'm seeing some through lines here at one point like five or 10 minutes ago, you in the conversation or 12 or something like that. You mentioned something about pacing and not being in a rush or that it's not moving that certain people are are it's not necessarily moving as quickly I mean, this video I watch had me thinking differently but but that still in this world trees beautifully model, the teaching of Ricardo Levin's mirallas and Aurora lemons mirallas. That key essential work. The key essential work that we need to do is best on in a way that is slow Whoa, deep and irreversible. And as quickly, as I aim a movie, maybe moving or not, that we can, that's the through line. And also what I was just saying that we can anchor into relationship, the relationship that is slow, deep and irreversible and continue to invest in ourselves and our connection with spirit and the divine and the various ways we can know. So that we can fully claim our power and move toward justice, keeping in mind, the wisdom and strength of tree medicine, as we are not always in alignment with that, but it's a good reference point to anchor to anchor back into. well connected connected with that with too much fat, like the reason we have too much fat is to know like at what point we need to start tithing. And when we may harvest the fruit of a tree is so like the fruit that comes before it's, it's actually appropriate to harvest. Like, I'm sort of thinking of that, like that lesson, too, that you can't, if you if you sort of rush to the harvest, then you can damage the tree. And you also it's hard to judge whether or not the fruit ultimately will be sweet if you pick it when it is under ripe. And I'm wondering if that's possibly a metaphor for where AI is, and where it might be going. Yeah, so the trees remind us to pace and pace ourselves. That ideally, I don't know if the tech world will pace itself, but our relationship to that and how we are interacting with it and how that may stay consistent or may evolve and shift dramatically over time that we think about pacing, and our rootedness and different seasons of our lives. So with that, wishing you a happy touchpad is not a week. It's a day but the week happy week in which to respond occurs and sending you much love until next time. Thanks for tuning in. To learn more about joyous justice LLC, our team and how you can get involved with our community. Check out the info in our show notes, or find us at joyous If you enjoyed this episode, show us some love. Subscribe wherever you're listening. Tell your people share what you're learning and how your leadership is evolving. Stay humble, but not too humble. And keep going because the future is ours to co create