Imperfect Genes: Human Evolution in New Gene Origination

December 10, 2019

6:30pm Peking University Law School Pin Café – Beijing, China

1) Are we a different species?
2) Do we have perfect biological properties?
3) Does evolution create perfect genes?

LONG Manyuan, Edna K. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago

LONG Manyuan is currently the Edna K Papazian Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.  Since his doctoral research, he has been investigating the problem of gene origination in organisms throughout his academic journey from UC Davis, Harvard to Chicago.   While observing various fascinating processes and functional consequences of new gene origination, he was impressed by the imperfection of genes in functions and evolution from humans to fruit flies. He was further struck by an observed fact that the imperfection appeared to be a normal and basic property of genes.  He is an author of 180 research papers, reviews and commentaries and editors/authors of 4 books in evolution and genetics. Nature, an internationally most influential scientific magazine, recently published a Feature Article to report the research progresses of him and his colleagues in the new gene evolution.

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.