A Future of Symbiosis and Coexistence: What Is Symbiosis, and Why Should We Want It?

The Berggruen Institute advocates leveraging Eastern and Western resources to explore and unearth the holistic interests that support all of humankind and our environment, as well as concepts and plans for a future replete with symbiosis and coexistence. From exploring the essence of cognition and intelligence to an open and diverse “Tianxia” view with relational rationality, we hope to gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental thinking of modern civilizations and prepare for an inclusive, peaceful, prosperous future of ubiquitous interconnectedness. Starting this year, we have begun a series of events under the theme “Facing a future of symbiosis and coexistence: from natural philosophy to planetary governance,” which aims to explore what symbiosis and coexistence mean and what value they serve to our current epoch in a multidisciplinary—covering philosophy, sociology, economics, global governance, and other fields—and multidimensional way.

From August to October in 2021, the Berggruen Institute China Center held two forums, inviting thinkers from the fields of biology, ecology, Chinese philosophy, and philosophy of science and technology. By integrating their research objectives, these scholars reported and shared ideas on the phenomena, implications, and extensions of symbiosis in a multifaceted, interdisciplinary manner, tying together the scientific facts, evolutionary logic, philosophical connotations, and ideological resources of symbiosis, thus bringing to light many worthwhile issues for further exploration and consideration. It could be said that we are still far from realizing just how extensive our interconnectedness is; truly understanding this fact will go a long way in changing the world.

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composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.

RAVE (IRCAM 2021) https://github.com/acids-ircam/RAVE