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.

We have achieved new milestones with our ongoing projects. The flagship project Tianxia convened its third international conference on the theme “Formulating a Minimalist Morality for a Planetary Order: Alternative Cultural Perspectives.” The corresponding project report was published in December. The continuing series “Symbiosis in Life Sciences and Gong Sheng in Eastern Philosophies” convened its third workshop in September with the theme “Boundaries, Cohesions, and Planetary Governance.” The “Imagining Futures” project had its second workshop held in April. A cohort of 16 scholars and writers from fields including gene editing, virtual reality, population and economy, climate and ecology, and humanities focused on prospects and predictions of cutting-edge technologies.

The Global Thinkers Series invited the 2021 Berggruen Prize winner Professor Peter Singer to speak on“Ethics and Animals.”The event was hosted by Tsinghua University’s Professor Wang Hui with Shandong University’s Professor Guo Peng as a discussant.

The Berggruen Seminar Series held one event titled “The Ethics of ‘Symbiosis’: Seeking a Trans-Boundary Entry through Comics, Literature, and Art,” featuring Professor Huang Tsung-chieh and Dr. Shi Danqing.

The Chinese version of Roboethics: A Navigating Overview translated by Professors Shang Xinjian and Du Liyan has been published under the Berggruen Book Series by Peking University Press.

The one sad event that affected everyone deeply at the Center and continues to be felt was the loss in June of our Senior Fellow, Professor Zhang Xianglong. Professor Zhang made indelible contributions to the Center in so many different ways, was much loved and appreciated, and the world seems much smaller without him.

Last but not least, the Center welcomed two new members to its team. They are the new operations coordinator Ren Mengmeng and programs coordinator Lim Jin Young.

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