Living with Machines: Future Perspectives and Analysis

October 27, 2021

3:30am Virtual

Time: 3:30 – 5:30 a.m PST | 18:30-20:30 Beijing Time

Streaming Platform: Bilibili 

Language: English

Moderator: Sebastian Sunday Grève

Key Discussions

  • Break through research in prosthetic limbs provides proof that parts of the human nervous system can be restored with semiconductors, then can we say these semiconductors can be conscious?
  • A person has a unique existence that cannot be replaced by anyone else, but what about robots?
  • What would digital personalities bring to the human life? Will you upload your brain to a chip?


18:30-18:35 Opening Remarks
18:35-19:05 Can Machines Be Conscious?
19:05-19:35 The Possibility of Realizing Digital Personality and The Imagination of The Future
19:35-20:05 Can Machines Be Persons?
20:05-20:30 Open Discussion


Sebastian Sunday Grève

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Peking University
  • 2020-2021 Berggruen Fellow

German philosopher, who was educated in Oxford and is living in Beijing, where he works as an assistant professor at Peking University. He is interested in both practical and theoretical issues. His 2015 essay ‘The Importance of Understanding Each Other in Philosophy’ was awarded the Annual Essay Prize of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and has since been published in Philosophy. In his doctoral thesis, Skill and Scepticism, he developed—largely in conversation with psychology, rather than philosophy—a new theory of intuitive skill; the theory serves to demonstrate the importance of attaining what might be called ‘true’ philosophical skill in order to unlock a unique potential of highly intelligent agency in both humans and artificial systems alike. Sebastian is the editor of Wittgenstein on Philosophy, Objectivity, and Meaning (Cambridge University Press, 2019; with James Conant) and Culture and Value after Wittgenstein (Oxford University Press, under contract).

HAO Jingfang

  • Author, Researcher
  • 2020-2021 Berggruen Fellow

Hao graduated from Tsinghua University with an undergraduate degree in physics, and she later gained her PhD degree in Economics and Management from the same university. She worked as Deputy Director of Research Department I in China Development Research Foundation from 2013 to 2018. She was a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School in 2018. Her research projects during those years include The Coordination of Big City Groups in China, The Rise and Fall of Great Nations, The Labor Market in the Era of Artificial Intelligence, and The Structure of Research and Innovation in China, etc. Hao started to write novels in 2006, and she won “The Best Novelette” for her short story “Folding Beijing” at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention.

WU Tianyue

  • Tenured Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Peking University
  • 2019-2020 Berggruen Fellow

Wu Tianyue graduated from the Institute of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He has long devoted himself to reconstructing philosophical arguments in ancient and medieval historical texts as a way of exploring new intellectual resources for current reflections. In his early days of research, Wu attached great importance to Augustine’s discussion on free will and moral responsibility, and he currently focuses on the philosophy of mind and ethics in ancient and medieval Aristotelian traditions. Wu is the author of Voluntas et libertas: A Philosophical Account of Augustine’s Conception of the Will in the Domain of Moral Psychology (意愿与自由:奥古斯丁意愿概念的道德心理学解读, Peking University Press, 2010). This book chiefly discusses the psychological dimension of Augustine’s concept of the will, and adopts a philosophical perspective to explore the function of the will as a faculty of the soul. Through this lens, we can better understand why it is the will and not other mental activities that underlines our moral responsibilities. More than ten related English language papers have been published in Les Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie MédiévalesModern Schoolman, Review of Metaphysics, Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy, and other international academic journals.






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.