The Future of Democracy Project

Launched in September of 2016, the Future of Democracy project host high-level symposia on democratic renewal. The origin of the project emerged from a simple insight: democratic governments had failed to keep pace with—and effectively manage—the rate and global scale of change in their societies and were in need of a significant overhaul to govern effectively in the 21st century.

These convenings have involved structured conversations aimed at both surfacing the challenges and opportunities of current democratic systems as well as imagining and defining pathways of reform. Symposia have taken place in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Portugal with further consultations taking place in France, Germany, Sweden, and elsewhere. Participants have represented nationalities from across Europe, North America, and beyond, and from a broad range of fields including policymakers, technologists, business leaders, journalists, political scientists, sociologists, philosophers, philanthropists, artists, and activists. Public polling and research has also been conducted in key countries in Europe and North America.

The Berggruen Institute‘s Future of Democracy Project consists of three working groups: social cohesion and the public square; a second on social media and democracy; and a third on the redesign of democratic institutions.

• Social Cohesion and the Public Square: The underlying causes of, and cures for, the collapse of social cohesion – including the explosion of identity politics – which once stood behind a politics of consensus (Chaired by Anthony Giddens and Helle Thorning-Schmidt).

• Social Media and Democracy: How can we change the incentives for platforms in order to dampen its negative effects and heal the divisions? How can we harness technology to create a new democratic culture (Chaired by Francis Fukuyama).

• Redesign of Democratic Institutions: Designing new governing practices and institutions that incorporate new means of citizen participation through social networks, with the check and balance of deliberative filters (Chaired by Nathan Gardels and Mario Monti).

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.