Ziyaad Bhorat

Ziyaad Bhorat

Political Theorist, 2022-2023 Berggruen Fellow


Ziyaad Bhorat is a South African political theorist who researches automated technologies and democratic governance, drawing insights from the history of political thought. His work has been published in academic and general audience outlets across the US, UK, and South Africa, on topics ranging from Aristotle to AI judges. His Ph.D. (Political Science) will be completed in 2022 at UCLA, where he also received his M.A. He also holds an M.B.A., and an M.Sc. (African Studies) from the University of Oxford, studying there as a Rhodes Scholar, and a B.Bus.Sci. (Economics with Law) from the University of Cape Town. He is a faculty lecturer on technology and politics for EquiTech Futures, and has moreover worked in media and telecoms industries, consulting for companies like The Walt Disney Co. With the support of the USC Berggruen Fellowship, his projects will examine the classical foundations and implications of a new despotism within the context of rising digital authoritarianism.

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