Changes are sweeping across the world—great transformations in technology and culture, politics and economics, and global power arrangements. These changes are altering how we perceive ourselves as human beings, how we view our institutions and how we look at the future. The Berggruen Institute was created to think deeply about these epochal changes and to shape better choices for tomorrow.

Capitalism has conquered the world, creating a dynamic system for enabling capital, ideas and people to work together, thus generating unprecedented global wealth. The current formula of capitalism has however been less successful in solving distributional issues.

The Future of Democracy program seeks to develop new institutions of governance designed for the current age. A decade after the global recession undermined confidence in the global financial system, a political crisis no less transformative is shaking democracies across the world.

From climate change and biodiversity loss to tech risk and pandemic preparedness, many of today’s most urgent challenges exceed the boundaries of nations and the limits of human concerns. Going beyond the intellectual framework of the era of globalization, the Berggruen Institute’s program in the Planetary aims to develop and support new means and mechanisms to foster cooperation in an era of mutual interdependence not just with each other but with the biogeochemical processes of the Earth itself.

Jonathan Zawada for Noema Magazine

“Future Humans” is a new Berggruen Institute research area that will collaboratively and creatively ask: How can we construct a flourishing ecosystem with AI, humans, and the planet? What sorts of novel fragilities will we encounter in a world of rapidly transforming but ineluctable interconnection? And how must we radically rethink human-driven institutions (politics, society, the economy, and so on) in the face of these dramatic changes? Launching in Fall 2022, this interdisciplinary program will unite experimentalists, creators, and scholars who will not only track, but also shape…

The Berggruen Fellowship Program is a cornerstone of the Institute’s mission to nurture ideas that shape the future. Since its inception in 2015, the program has established academic partnerships at premier research universities throughout the world: Harvard, New York University, Oxford, Peking University, Stanford, Tsinghua University, and University of Southern California. It offers scholars the opportunity of flexible periods to live and work in both the United States and China.

Antikythera is a program reorienting planetary-scale computation as a philosophical, technological and geopolitical force. Through research, design and debate, Antikythera is convening 75+ leading technologists, engineers, designers, philosophers, and writers to develop new models, programs, and speculative projects that steer computation towards a viable future.

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.