Templeton World Charity Foundation Awards Berggruen Institute with More Than $225,000 to Support Transformations of the Human Program “AI and the Human” Fellowship

The Berggruen Institute (BI) is proud to announce the receipt of a grant for more than $225,000 from the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) in support of our research fellowship for the Transformation of the Human (ToftH) program.

Today the stakes of AI vastly exceed the predominant understanding of AI as exclusively an engineering discipline. With this observation in mind, the ToftH research fellowship places junior researchers, philosophers, anthropologists and artists within AI laboratories to work side by side with AI engineers on a daily basis. The fellows’ task is to discover philosophical questions—instances of the transformation of the human—that silently reverberate in the everyday work of the engineers.

The partnership with the Berggruen Institute and Templeton World Charity Foundation has already placed scholars in key AI labs, e.g. MIT and NYU / Facebook AI Research, to observe and participate in discussions with programmers.

Our first fellow represented by this TWCF / BI partnership is the placement of Jacob Browning, PhD in the lab of world-renowned Yann LeCun, Professor at New York University and Chief Scientist at Facebook AI Research. Browning, in this role, exercises a kind of philosophical due diligence by providing cautionary observations and by revealing instances for philosophical reflection that might otherwise go unnoticed. As TWCF puts it, “The aim is to collect answers over time, tracking how the work of AI labs transforms concepts that are often definitive of our humanity—creativity, cognition, personality, caring.”

Nicolas Berggruen thanked the Foundation and noted that the TWCF and BI both share a deep commitment to human and non-human flourishing. “It is wonderful to be entrusted with this grant from the globally-recognized Templeton World Charity Foundation. Their support, paired with our intellectual partnership, will help uncover fruitful areas of research and new philosophical understandings.”

ToftH is also in the process of developing joint intellectual ventures with the TWCF Diverse Intelligences Initiative. The Initiative is designed to bring animal and artificial intelligence researchers together to expand the notion of intelligence and capacities. The working groups examine and illuminate the many diverse types of intelligences that are found in all manner of species and then bring this kaleidoscopic view to bear on AI research and development.

Director of ToftH Tobias Rees said, “I am delighted to have found a partner who is equally interested in exploring new conceptions of the human as an intelligent being that emerge from the study of animal intelligence and artificial intelligence.”

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