Berggruen Institute Announces 2018-2019 Class of Fellows in U.S. and China as International Cohort of Berggruen Thinkers to Study Great Transformations

Rachel S. Bauch

LOS ANGELES, CA — The Berggruen Institute has announced its fourth 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—one-year endowments include Mike Annany, Dominique Lestel, Adrienne Mayor, Jacob Ward, Toomas Ilves, Joshua Berson, Hannah Landecker, Hélène Mialet, Joshua Foa Dienstag, Brian Berkey, Angelos Chryssogelos, Thomas Kurer, Sungho Kimlee, Thierry Ngosso, Denise Celentano, David Frayne, Riccardo Zago, Chunsong Gan, Tingyang Zhao, Yi Zeng, in addition to a cohort of three-year Research Fellows Jacob Browning, Joseph Lemelin, Francis McKay, David Platzer, Nicole Rigillo, and Julianne Yip were selected for impactful contributions to their respective fields.

From transformations of the human, economic and social institutions; systems of governance, technological development to philosophical and cultural exchange, the 2018-2019 Berggruen Fellows are to conduct research and collaborate with one another at premier research institutions in the United States and China. Fourteen fellows – from Harvard, New York University, Stanford, University of Southern California and Peking University – will produce books, scholarly workshops, deliver lectures and academic articles to disseminate the ideas cultivated throughout their fellowship.

Founded in 2010 by philanthropist and investor Nicolas Berggruen, the Berggruen Institute mission is to develop foundational 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.

“Coming from a diverse set of fields and backgrounds, the Berggruen Fellows will collaborate and dialogue with one another throughout their term, providing them an opportunity to expand upon and refine ideas. Their work is central to the nurturing and development of groundbreaking ideas at the Berggruen Institute,” said Berggruen Institute Vice President for Programs Nils Gilman.

Thematic highlights include the work of fellows at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) and University of Southern California Dornsife College where each cohort will research the rapid technological innovations of our era and how those innovations are transforming our society.

As part of CASBS’ five-person fellowship, Toomas Ilves, Former President of Estonia, will research the regulatory and technical solutions necessary to ensure continued functioning of liberal democracy in the digital era while his colleague Mike Ananny, author of Networked Press Freedom, develops new types of public networks and communications platforms. Adrienne Mayor, research scholar in the Classics Department and the History and Philosophy of Science Program at Stanford, explores how automata, self-moving devices and AI were imagined in antiquity with her new book Gods and Robots: The Ancient Quest for Artificial Life. The former Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science, Jacob Ward is writing a new work on how AI will amplify good and bad human instincts for Hachette Books while author and professor Dominique Lestel’s focus will be “existential machines” and the interaction of human and machines on an emotional level.

At the University of Southern California Dornsife College, Hélène Mialet, author of Hawking Incorporated: Stephen Hawking and the Anthropology of the Knowing, is exploring the management of chronic disease, algorithms and extended medical networks involving caregivers, patients, animals, and machines. Joshua Berson, author of Computable Bodies, is working on The Scaffold: A Theory of Adaptation that analyzes the relationship between technology and the body and highlights the cultural changes necessary to guide humanity through our current environmental crisis. Hannah Landecker, Director of the Institute for Society and Genetics at UCLA, is researching the use of ethnographic and interview-based engagement with biologists and biotechnology entrepreneurs.

In Beijing, Tingyang Zhao, member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and author of The Tianxia System: An Introduction to the Philosophy of World Institution is working to publish his books for international readers. Chunsong Gan from Peking University explains Tianxia from a historical perspective, and he is editing a volume derived from the international workshop “What is Tianxia—from the East Asian Context.” Yi Zeng, Deputy Director at the Research Center for Brain-inspired Intelligence, Chinese Academy of Sciences, works with philosophers in China and abroad to guide his research in brain-inspired conscious living becoming for future Human-AI society.

The Berggruen Institute’s Transformations of the Human program has also initiated a Research Fellows track, which is embedding fellows in artificial intelligence and biotechnology laboratories. This year’s cohort includes Nicole Rigillo, at Element AI; Joseph Lemelin, at Facebook AI Research at NYU; David Platzer, at the Center for Human Compatible AI at UC Berkeley; Jacob Browning, at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT; Francis McKay, at AI4ALL at Stanford; and Julianne Yip at the MIT Media Lab.

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 three years to live and work in both the United States and China. 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 2018-2019 Berggruen Fellows:
CASBS
Mike Ananny is creating new types of public networks and communications platforms at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Toomas Ilves is researching the regulatory and technical solutions necessary to ensure continued functioning of liberal democracy in the digital era at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.
Dominique Lestel is writing about “existential machines” and the interaction of humans and machines on an emotional level at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Adrienne Mayor has newly authored Gods and Robots: The Ancient Quest for Artificial Life that explores how automata, self-moving devices, and AI were imagined in antiquity at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Jacob Ward is writing a book about how AI will amplify good and bad human instincts for Hachette Books at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

University of Southern California
Joshua Berson is working on The Scaffold: A Theory of Adaption that analyzes the relationship between technology and the body and highlights the cultural changes necessary to guide humanity through our current environmental crisis at the University of Southern California.

Hannah Landecker is researching the use of ethnographic and interview-based engagement with biologists and biotechnology entrepreneurs at the University of Southern California.

Hélène Mialet is exploring the management of chronic disease, the use of prosthetics, computer driven monitoring devices, algorithms, and extended medical networks involving assemblages of caregivers, patients, and machines at the University of Southern California.

Joshua Foa Dienstag is working on a project tentatively titled “The Human Boundary: Freedom, Citizenship & Democracy in a Post-Human Age” at the University of Southern California.

Harvard
Brian Berkey is researching obligations of justice in the economic domain and what that means for corporations at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Angelos Chryssogelos is studying populism and democracy at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.

Thomas Kurer is exploring the explanatory power of differentiating relative and absolute economic hardship when it comes to disentangling voters’ motives to support either left-wing or right-wing populism at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.

Sungho Kimlee is researching virtue ethics, comparative religion and the history of democratic institutions at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Thierry Ngosso is researching global justice and health inequalities with a focus on Sub-Saharan African societies at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

New York University
Denise Celentano is exploring the division of labor as an issue of justice, with a focus on work inequalities and leisure time at New York University.

David Frayne is researching the ‘Hard Problem’, an exploration of ethics, politics and social relations in a world of crisis at New York University.

Riccardo Zago is studying policies with an aim to fix the individual and social costs of disruptive technological change at New York University.

Beijing
Chunsong Gan is researching Tianxia theory—the “All-Under-Heaven System”—from historical perspective and editing a volume derived from the international workshop “What is Tianxia—from the East Asian Context.”

Tingyang Zhao is the originator of Tianxia theory—the “All-Under-Heaven System”—and is working to publish his books for international readers.

Yi Zeng is creating Artificial General Intelligence and Brain-inspired Conscious Living Becomings for future Human-AI Society.

Research Post-Doc Fellows
Jacob Browning is a recent PhD from the New School for Social Research. Jacob’s broader work focuses on how the mind has been studied historically, especially the transition from studying mind principally through philosophical reflection into the contemporary experimental study of mindedness. He co-edited and co-wrote the introduction to Giving a Damn: Essays in Dialogue with John Haugeland (MIT Press, 2016).

Joseph Lemelin holds a PhD in Philosophy from the New School for Social Research and was formerly the Senior Editor at the Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. His research interests include ancient philosophy, philosophy of science and aesthetics.

Francis McKay is the Earl S. Johnson Instructor for Anthropology in Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. His research is largely interdisciplinary, situated at the intersection of medical and moral anthropology; science and technology studies; ancient, modern and continental philosophy; and contemplative studies.

David Platzer holds a PhD in Medical Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and is an experience researcher at Adobe. His research interests include medical anthropology, critical disability studies, organizational ethnography, design anthropology and sociology of human sciences.

Nicole Rigillo is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh and Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. Her research interests include science, technology studies, governance, social theory, smart cities and urban anthropology.

Julianne Yip is a PhD candidate researching Medical Anthropology at McGill University and was formerly a Wolfe Fellow in Scientific and Technological Literacy. Her research interests include social and cultural anthropology and ethnography.

###

ABOUT THE BERGGRUEN INSTITUTE
The Berggruen Institute’s mission is to develop foundational ideas and shape political, economic, and social institutions for the 21st century. Providing critical analysis using an outwardly expansive and purposeful network, we bring together some of the best minds and most authoritative voices from across cultural and political boundaries to explore fundamental questions of our time. Our objective is enduring impact on the progress and direction of societies around the world. To date, projects inaugurated at the Berggruen Institute have helped develop a youth jobs plan for Europe, fostered a more open and constructive dialogue between Chinese leadership and the West, strengthened the ballot initiative process in California, and, partnered with the Washington Post, to publish The WorldPost, a global media platform that brings thought leaders from around the world to share ideas. In addition, the Berggruen Prize, a $1 million award is conferred annually by an independent jury to a thinker whose ideas are shaping human self-understanding to advance humankind.