Berggruen China Center

Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and life science have led to the fourth scientific and technological revolution. The Berggruen China Center is a hub for East-West research and dialogue dedicated to the cross-cultural and interdisciplinary study of the transformations affecting humanity. Intellectual themes for researchers and visiting scholars focus on frontier technologies and society—specifically in artificial intelligence, the microbiome, and gene editing as well as issues involving global governance and globalization.

To visit the Berggruen China Center’s website, please click here.

  • Our Research

    2022 Annual Report

    The year 2022 began with the launch of a new public lecture series entitled“When Science and Humanities Face Life Together”to ponder the most fundamental human questions such as“what is humanity?”and“what is life itself?” The other new initiative is “Unfolding Metaverse: Real Virtuality or Illusory Reality?” a project that aims to find out how the co-mingling of virtual realities and the physical world will impact the human species and in what way, they will re-organize the human society and shape the future of the planet.

    2021 Annual Report

    While international borders remain largely closed in 2021 and our life has been subject to unpredictable lockdowns and social distancing policies, the China Center managed to continue our programming activities and launch several new projects. In 2021, we published four books, reached new milestones in ongoing projects and launched new ones. In addition, we continued the Berggruen Seminar Series and featured topics such as gene editing, big data and scientific thinking, and applied mathematics and its worldviews. The Center welcomed a new cohort of fellows, and welcomed a new program coordinator, to the team.

    Berggruen Research Center, Peking University

    Launched by the President of Peking University and the Chairman of the Berggruen Institute on December 19th, 2018, the Center engages China’s most outstanding thinkers to examine, share, and develop ideas to address global challenges. The Berggruen Institute has committed $25.5 million to establish the Center, which includes a fellowship program, and houses program activities such as lectures and symposia alongside a host of other public events. The Center is located at Peking University.

  • Programs

    Frontier Technologies and Society

    The program brings together Chinese philosophers, scientists in artificial intelligence, robotics and life sciences, legal scholars as well as science fiction writers and artists to explore ways frontier technologies impact and reshape how we view humanity, the nature of life and examine their impact on human society and our relationships with machines and other beings.

    Digital Governance

    Big data and algorithms are changing the ways governments manage their social and economic programs, and these changes may take different forms in different social, political, and cultural environments. We engage with scholars from sociology, philosophy, law, and social sciences who do research on trust, credit systems, and public policy to examine the divergence and convergence of future governance systems in a digital age.

    Globalization and Geopolitics

    Today’s dominant intellectual framework of international affairs is shaped by realism and power politics. Notions of nation-state, national interest, zero-sum competition, and big power rivalry underlie these debates and inform policymaking. While these notions are helpful in analyzing the power balance of international affairs, they are inadequate in helping us understand the deeper motivations and aspirations driving, directing, and shaping policy making. A closer look at embedded values, philosophical traditions and historical experiences will promote deep cross-cultural understanding and allow building strategic trust among the world’s great powers.

    Berggruen Seminar Series in China

    The Berggruen Seminar series is a public engagement initiative that started in 2019. Topics of the series cover “AI and Society,” “Biotech and Ethics,” and “Transculture”. By the end of 2020, the Center has held 13 Berggruen seminars, with more than 30,000 people engaged in conversations with experts online and offline.

    Because of the pandemic, the series was moved online in July 2020 and is live streamed on Bilibili. Recorded videos are available on Berggruen Institute’s YouTube channel.

    Global Thinkers Series

    The Global Thinker Series invites thinkers who have deep insights into the evolution of different civilizations and the grand narratives of world history to share their knowledge and wisdom. It is hoped that with strengthened understanding and trust between different civilizations, we can help remove the intolerance, arrogance, and misunderstanding that has come to characterize contemporary geopolitics. 

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.