AI & the Human

Advances in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and data collection and its curation have ushered us into a new technical era, one equally exciting and anxiety provoking. There is near universal agreement that the effects of AI, of intelligent infrastructures and devices, on human life and living together is going to be enormous. How do we best address the effects of AI on things human? And how do we make sure that the insights that arise from inquiring into how AI is changing what it means to be human are built into AI? As these questions make clear, the stakes of AI vastly exceed the predominant understanding of AI as a mere engineering discipline. Perhaps even first and foremost, AI is also a philosophical project: a project that experimentally challenges many of the distinctions on which our self-comprehension as human has relied on for the longest time –– the distinction between the human and the machine, the living and the non-living, the natural and the artificial, and more. We have assembled a high-profile advisory group, working group, fellows and artists to address the philosophical and political questions that emanate from AI. Our goal is to make the human questions at stake in AI part of AI design itself. And our ambition is to thereby facilitate the emergence of an entirely new genre of productions –– artistic as well as philosophical and engineering. Or all combined.

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.