Berggruen Institute Announces 2017-2018 Class of Fellows

John Markoff, Arati Prabhakar, and Tenzin Priyadarshi Named as Part of an International Group of Thinkers from Diverse Disciplines to Study Great Transformations

Rachel S. Bauch


Rachel Bauch, Berggruen Institute; (323) 841-4139

LOS ANGELES, CA, June 20, 2017 — The Berggruen Institute, announced today its third cohort of Berggruen Fellows to research the transformative ideas shaping our society and their impact on humanity while promoting both academic and cultural exchange globally. Joining a notable roster of Berggruen Fellows such as Yi-huah Jiang, Owen Flanagan, and Samuel Moyn—this year’s endowments include Roger Ames, Rajeev Bhargava, Marco Ferrante, Liz Fouksman, Peter Hershock, Terra Lawson-Remer, Jennifer London, Andrew F. March, John Markoff, Viren Murthy, Sarah Ogilvie, Arati Prabhakar, Tenzin Priyadarshi,and Rafal Stepien and were selected for impactful contributions to their respective fields.

From global and technological development to philosophical and cultural exchange, the 2017-2018 Berggruen Fellows are to conduct research and collaborate with one another at premier research institutions in the United States, Great Britain and China. Fourteen fellows – from Harvard, New York University, Stanford, Oxford, Peking and Tsinghua University – will produce scholarly workshops, deliver lectures and academic articles in order to disseminate the ideas cultivated throughout their fellowship.

Founded in 2010 by philanthropist and investor Nicolas Berggruen, the Berggruen Institute mission is to nurture ideas and provide critical analysis that will shape political, economic and social institutions for the 21st century. Since its inception, the Berggruen Institute has launched the 21st Century Council, the Council for the Future of Europe, the Think Long Committee for California and the signature Berggruen Prize.

“Berggruen Fellows are leading thinkers who focus in an in-depth way on great transformations that are reshaping the human condition and how we may, in turn, impact our future through ethical and social decisions,” said Berggruen Institute President Craig Calhoun.

Although diverse in their areas of study, the Berggruen Fellows will collaborate and dialogue with one another throughout their term, providing them an opportunity to expand upon or refine their ideas. Five fellows at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) will research the rapid technological innovations of our era and how those innovations are transforming our society. As part of CASBS’ five-person fellowship, Arati Prabhakar, the former director of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the Obama Administration, will research how the defense industry and expanding military capabilities impact the world. At Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, three fellows will research how culture, ethics, and systems are formed over time and what they mean today. Among these, Andrew F. March, a professor of law at Yale University, will research the problems of sovereignty in Islamic thought. Roger Ames, at Peking University, will lead several collaboration projects with other Eastern philosophical scholars and write on Confucian ethics–an area of great interest for its present day applications to the fields of governance, science and technology.

“These Fellows represent the very best of productive academic collaboration. Their work and status as rising thought leaders demonstrate the Berggruen Institute’s wonderful dedication to supporting the ideas and people that are shaping our world”, said University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann.

The Fellowship Program is one of several projects created to help the Berggruen Institute achieve its mission of nurturing ideas that shape the future. It offers scholars the opportunity of flexible periods of up to two years to live and work in both the West and Asia. Over the last two years, the themes of the fellowship have evolved from comparative philosophy and religion to the great transformations impacting the world today.

About the 2017-2018 Berggruen Fellows:

Roger Ames is writing a book on Confucian ethics at Peking University. He will also be collaborating separately with Peter Hershock, Steve Angle, and Daniel Bell on separate projects including an edited volume of essays, an event on Artificial Intelligence’s impact on Eastern religion, and a promotion of cultural dialogue between China and India. Click here for more info.

Rajeev Bhargava is researching the cultural dialogue between China and India from the perspective of a changing global order at New York University. Click here for more info.

Marco Ferrante is researching cultural innovation and resistance to innovation using the Pratyabh?ñ?and other ancient Indian cultural examples at Wolfson College, Oxford. Click here for more info.

Liz Fouksman researches widely held social, cultural and moral attachment to wage labor, and the impediment such attachment poses for new imaginaries of the future of work and distribution in an increasingly automated world, at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.  Click here for more info.

Peter Hershock is researching how to apply Buddhism to the study of Artificial Intelligence and other technologies at Peking University. Click here for more info.

Terra Lawson-Remer is exploring the global implications of radical advances in biotechnology and how it impacts sociogenomic research, assisted reproduction, and gene therapy research at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Click here for more info.

Jennifer London is doing a comparative study of the global history of equilibrium and how normative systems legitimize hierarchical structures at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Click here for more info.

Andrew F. March is conducting research for a book on the problem of divine and popular sovereignty in modern Islamic thought at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Click here for more info.

John Markoff is researching the role of Artificial Intelligence and robotics in gerontology and whether technology can alleviate the pain of isolation that the elderly face at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Click here for more info.

Viren Murthy is investigating contemporary versions of pan-Asianism in the context of the transformations that shape today’s world, namely the emergence of global neo-liberalism and the fall of socialist states, at Tsinghua University. Click here for more info.

Sarah Ogilvie is studying “the language of the iGeneration” to discover how those born after 1995 express technology’s impact on their lives at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University where she is also a Linguistics and Social Sciences Research Fellow. Click here for more info. 

Arati Prabhakar is researching the ecosystem of research and development in the defense industry and technological military capabilities will change lives around the world at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Click here for more info.

Tenzin Priyadarshi is developing a framework for establishing ethics and governance of Artificial Intelligence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Click here for more info.

Rafal Stepien is researching Indian and Chinese Buddhist ontology, epistemology, and ethics at Wolfson College, Oxford. Click here for more info. 

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.