R. Alta Charo

R. Alta Charo

Professor of Law; 2019-2020 Berggruen Fellow at CASBS


During the fellowship year, Charo would like to develop a structured approach to when and how biological concepts should be used to constrain legal imagination, versus when and how they should be abandoned in favor of social definitions that better serve the purposes of law.

Charo is the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. Previously she was a legal analyst for the congressional Office of Technology Assessment and for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She has also been a senior policy advisor at the FDA. She focuses on governance of emerging biotechnologies, including with respect to national security threats. Charo is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, where she co-chaired its committees on embryonic stem cell research and on genome editing. Most recently Charo was one of the organizers for the Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong, and was named to the WHO advisory committee on “Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing.” In 2019-20, she is a Berggruen fellow at CASBS.

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