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Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype and Kazaa, got so famous in his homeland of Estonia that people named the biggest city after him. Well, that latter part may not be exactly true but there are few people today who have not used, or at least heard of, Skype or Kazaa. What is much less known, however, is that for the past 10 years Jaan Tallinn has spent a lot of time and money as an evangelist for the dangers of existential risks as well as a generous financial supporter to organizations doing research in the field. And so I was very happy to do an interview with Tallinn.
During our 75 min discussion with Jaan Tallinn we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: a few quirky ways he sometimes introduces himself by; the conspiracy of physicists to save the world; how and why he got interested in AI and the singularity; the top existential risks we are facing today; quantifying the downsides of artificial intelligence and all-out nuclear war; Noam Chomsky‘s and Marvin Minsky‘s doubts we are making progress in AGI; how Deep Mind’s AlphaGo is different from both Watson and Deep Blue; my recurring problems with Skype for podcasting; soft vs hard take-off scenarios and our chances of surviving the technological singularity; the importance of philosophy…
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Who is Jaan Tallinn?
Jaan Tallinn is a founding engineer of Skype and Kazaa. He is a co-founder of the Cambridge Centre for Existential Risk, Future of Life Institute, and philanthropically supports other existential risk research organizations. He is also a partner at Ambient Sound Investments, an active angel investor, and has served on the Estonian President’s Academic Advisory Board.