Possible Worlds: The New Treaties of Globalization

October 11, 2022

6pm Royce Hall (Room 314) at UCLA – Los Angeles, CA

Registration is required; seating is limited.

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Possible Worlds: A lecture series presented by the UCLA Division of Humanities and the Berggruen Institute to discuss the future of humanity and how French economist Gabriel Zucman sees it through the link between globalization, taxation, and inequality

About Gabriel Zucman
Gabriel Zucman is an associate professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he directs the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Center on Wealth and Income Inequality. He also serves as director of the EU Tax Observatory, an independent research laboratory hosted at the Paris School of Economics. Zucman’s research focuses on the accumulation, distribution and taxation of global wealth and has renewed the analysis of the macroeconomic and distributional implications of globalization. In addition to numerous articles, he has authored two books: “The Hidden Wealth of Nations” (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and “The Triumph of Injustice” (with Emmanuel Saez, W.W. Norton, 2019). Zucman has been named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and a Sloan Research Fellow and has received the Bernácer Prize; the Excellence Award in Global Economic Affairs from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy; and the Best Young French Economist Prize from Le Monde and le Cercle des Économistes.

About the Series

Possible Worlds is a new partnership between the UCLA Division of Humanities and the Los Angeles–based Berggruen Institute. This semiannual lecture series invites some of today’s most imaginative intellectual leaders and creators to deliver talks on the future of humanity. Through the lens of their singular achievements and experiences, these trailblazers in creativity, innovation, philosophy and politics will lecture on provocative topics that explore current challenges and transformations in human progress.

UCLA faculty and students have long been at the forefront of interpreting the world’s legacy of language, literature, art and science. UCLA Humanities serves a vital role in readying future leaders to articulate their thoughts with clarity and imagination, to interpret the world of ideas, and to live as informed citizens in an increasingly complex world. We are proud to be partnering in this lecture series with the Berggruen Institute, whose work addresses the “Great Transformations” taking place in technology and culture, politics and economics, global power arrangements, and even how we perceive ourselves as humans. The Institute seeks to connect deep thought in the human sciences — philosophy and culture — to the pursuit of practical improvements in governance.

A selection committee comprising representatives of UCLA and the Berggruen Institute has been formed to make recommendations for lecturers. The committee includes:

• Ursula Heise, Professor and Chair, Department of English; Professor, UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; Marcia H. Howard Term Chair in Literary Studies

• Pamela Hieronymi, Professor of Philosophy

• Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Professor of Urban Planning; Associate Provost for Academic Planning

• Todd Presner, Associate Dean, Digital Initiatives; Chair of the Digital Humanities Program; Michael and Irene Ross Endowed Chair of Yiddish Studies; Professor of Germanic Languages and Comparative Literature

• Lynn Vavreck, Professor, Department of Political Science; Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy

• David Schaberg, Senior Dean of the UCLA College; Dean of Humanities; Professor, Asian Languages & Cultures

• Nils Gilman, Vice President of Programs, the Berggruen Institute

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