Yael Eisenstat

Yael Eisenstat

Democracy Activist, 2021-22 Berggruen Fellow


Yaël Eisenstat is a democracy activist currently focused on technology’s effects on the public square and democracy. After spending 18 years in the national security and global affairs world—as a CIA officer, diplomat, and White House advisor—Yaël began to view the breakdown of reasoned discourse as the biggest threat to U.S. democracy. So she took a role at Facebook in 2018 heading the company’s new Global Elections Integrity Operations team for political advertising. Realizing she was not going to change the company from within, she left and has since been a public advocate for transparency and accountability in tech, particularly where it affects democracies around the world. Her recent TED talk addresses these issues and proposes ideas for how to reclaim our public square. Her work at Berggruen will focus on what the public square and open, democratic debate look like in the digital world and how we can change the current incentives to reconcile social media’s dominance of these public spaces with democratic principles. She will help convene a series of round table discussions to understand how the digital public square has changed in recent years and develop recommendations for the path forward.

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