Margaret Levi

Margaret Levi

Director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences


Margaret Levi is Sara Miller McCune Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) and professor of political science, Stanford University. She earned her BA from Bryn Mawr College and PhD from Harvard University. She is the 2019 recipient of the Johan Skytte Prize. She was president of the American Political Science Association and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences.  She was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. Her books include: Of Rule and Revenue; Consent, Dissent, and PatriotismAnalytic Narratives; Cooperation without Trust?; and  In the Interest of Others. She is general coeditor of the Annual Review of Political Science and an editor of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics and of PNAS. Her research is on the conditions that evoke citizen compliance, trust, and the willingness to act in the interest of others.

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.