Future of Democracy Convenes Working Groups for the First Time

Dawn Nakagawa

Between June 30 and July 4, the Future of Democracy working group brought together two of its international project teams for the first time—Social Cohesion and the Public Square and Redesign of Democratic Institutions.  The convening was hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy. The group had the honor of being joined by Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Matthew Bishop, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center & Fellows Program Global Policy and Advocacy.

The focus of the Social Cohesion and the Public Square team is to develop insights and ideas to overcome the political polarization and social fragmentation affecting many western democracies. Over several months, the team chaired by Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Anthony Giddens commissioned papers, convened meetings, and invited expert witnesses to develop recommendations for policy makers to consider. Other members of the group included Nathaniel Persily, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School; Karen Kornbluh, Founder and President of the Digital Innovation & Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund; Philip Howard, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute; and Rocio Martinez-Sampere, Executive Director of the Felipe Gonzalez Foundation.

The Redesign of Democratic Institutions team, led by Berggruen Institute Co-Founder Nathan Gardels, has focused on the adaptation of democratic institutions to enhance opportunities for citizen participation while maintaining the capacity for government to think long term. Other members of this group include Mario Monti, former Italian Prime Minister; Phillip Pettit, L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University; Jamie Susskind, award-winning author of Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech; and Beth Noveck, Director of the Governance Lab at Columbia University.

The Future of Democracy working group is currently writing a joint report to be published later this year.

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