Future Humans

Life, intelligence, body, matter, mind: such concepts are undergoing great transformations. From biotechnologies that rearrange DNA to create new life forms, to computers that learn to respond to human emotions and anticipate the most intimate desires, to space telescopes that reveal a universe percolating with strange particles and perhaps soon other sentient beings, we interact with and design technologies that unsettle our notions of nature, including human nature. These transformations thus prompt us to consider the diversity of possible futures for humans in connection with other beings, biologies, and the biosphere.

“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, how humans of the future will collaborate with forecasted natures and technologies.



Vaster Than Empires is a Writer’s Workshop and Retreat in and near Los Angeles. The project takes its name from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1971 story in which a human crew encounters an alien, more-than-human, collective planetary intelligence. Writers will test Le Guin’s hypothesis that what we call “intelligence” extends far beyond the human mind, an explosive field of scientific, social, and philosophical inquiry.

The project is driven by the ethos that storytelling creates and continues communal mythos. In sci-fi and speculative fiction, we fabulate about worlds beyond our present, beings athwart to our immediate perception, and non-human temporalities that boggle our brains — staging a plurality of possible futures to pursue, technologies to tinker with, and epistemologies to engineer. How are we learning to more deeply appreciate non-human intelligences, those on Earth (like bees and bats), those who we create (like AI), and those who we envision beyond our present knowledge (like extraterrestrials)? Read More ≫


A self-aware artificial intelligence, algorithms that can be trained to “learn,” projects that plan for life beyond Earth, and biotechnologies that push the limits of life are among recent and anticipated technoscientific developments that have conjured new futures and unsettled theories of body, mind, and species in recent decades. They pose the question, What Will Life Become?

A two-day workshop, this past April, in collaboration with the USC Dornsife Center on Science, Technology, and Public Life, What Will Life Become? brought together path-breaking scholars, scientists, and artists to grapple with forms of life that might emerge in the mid-20th century. Read More ≫


ToftH was a program incubated at the Berggruen Institute from 2018 onward, and launched in late 2021 as an independent company and school co-funded by the Berggruen Institute and Reid Hoffman, you can find out more here: https://tofth.org/. See the program’s history here.

The ToftH space invites suppositions of the less binary, less with an end point in mind but instead looking for foresight and openings. Where uncertainty is celebrated, and multitudes of answers are sought. Together, FH + ToftH will produce concrete artifacts and maps for deeper thinking and closer consideration of the possibilities and consequences, intentional or otherwise, of technologies that unfold at breakneck speed.

Future Humans works with ToftH to find overlap in their respective research, to leverage their abundant network of thinkers and doers, and to test ideas and float bold thought experiments together.


The FH program will recruit fellows that, along with their own research, will be asked to participate in and co-produce artifacts that result from themed working groups. We anticipate that these fellows will be makers and thinkers drawn from philosophy, the arts and technology.


The Cartesian-Kantian ontology of the Human stabilized the notion that we are set apart from nature and yet different from machines. With synthetic biology, machine learning, neurotechnology, climate change…where are we at now?

The aim of the Future Humans Video Archive is to capture how individual humans (both famous and unknown) express their worries and hopes, their beliefs and doubts, their melancholia and their excitement about the 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.

RAVE (IRCAM 2021) https://github.com/acids-ircam/RAVE