Renovating Democracy: A Discussion with Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels

October 3, 2019

5:30pm Cambridge, MA

With the rise of populist movements in the West, and China in the East, many question whether Democracy as we know it is in crisis. In their new book, Renovating Democracy: Governing in the Age of Globalization and Digital Capitalism, co-authors Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels take this question head on, arguing that our governance models must evolve to reflect the rapid changes in our globally-connected, technology-driven world. Their book proposes new approaches to renovating our global systems, including harnessing the power of participation while relying on mediating structures to mitigate populism, focusing on economic “re-distribution” to protect workers instead of jobs, and striking a better balance between national pride and global cooperation. Join Gardels and Berggruen as they discuss these issues, and others, with David Gergen, Founding Director of the Center for Public Leadership.

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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.