Alta Charo: What's Next for Genome Editing Governance?

Tui Shaub

In this fascinating presentation, Alta Charo (Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and former Berggruen Fellow) charts the landscape of heritable and non-heritable human genomic editing and respective efforts globally to reduce actual and projected harms through legislation.

From the legal quandaries that have arisen since the recent controversial CRISPR tinkering of twin baby girls in China to be resistant to HIV infection, to the deliberate elimination of undesirable traits in non-heritable procedures, she covers the full spectrum of challenges and approaches to legal and moral frameworks.

These frameworks are grafted onto a technology that is only accelerating around its subject: the constantly-changing human. Charo challenges us to consider how we might navigate moral, ethical, and legal questions without falling prey to relativism or hyper-vigilance in the form of excessive restrictions.

Here at the Berggruen Institute, the Transformations of the Human (ToftH) program explores these questions in relation to where, and if, lines can be neatly drawn between natural technologies and the Human.


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.