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Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn on AI and the Singularity

Jaan TallinnJaan 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 interview Tallinn on Singularity 1on1.

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…

As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full. To show your support you can write a review on iTunes or make a donation.


Who is Jaan Tallinn?

Jaan Tallinn 2Jaan 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.

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  • billy lee

    ^ perfect example and representation of a significant number of human population today. and we’re still playing political role-playing games, i mean, it’s getting better – in a sense, people are more connected and stuff, and asking questions (still, more opinions based on their own gut reactions) but look at the rate of technological changes and their rate, also the face of diversity that has yet to fully come out of closet. will we ever be able to keep up? i’m not at all optimistic based on the life i have lived and tried living over and over again oftentimes in instant moments. we’re not becoming more responsive at a rate that would help us to learn from our challenges in the near future.

    btw, willg, i did not interpret jaan or what he said in that manner at all. if you’ve listened and observed him with any human intelligence above average, paying good amount of attention to all possible data for your sensory input you should not have made the mistake of making the interpretation only based on the life you have lived and is able to imagine from reading alphabets. so we do this, the human firmware we are based on still thinks we do best for our time by making conclusions, seeking comfort and stimulation for their time.

    if i may- jaan was basically saying that people’s perspectives on life and reproduction is greatly affected after experiencing birth of a child.

    willg, question for yourself, how often do you entertain yourself playing these kind of word games? does it do you good? why would you give so much weight to jaan’s english only to be translated into your own life’s frustrations?

    i would bet that you were raised in a “good” environment.

    these types of questions, i sincerely hope can be asked by AI in the very near future. (“solve intelligence” please!)

    no disrespect to freedom of speech but then again there’s no time for this shit.

  • Michael Clunne

    Can AI still have faith? Weird question I know, but I learn more about science cause I have Faith. Yes I’m a almost pointless minority, don’t mean to be haha but you guys do incredible work. Good job don’t stop by the way. But if you get time how to answer how can AI care about Humans and existence enough, Love it and have faith there is more, and not to wipe it out on a statistical probability.
    As smart as it may well become. It may just need only be stupid in one area not to get. You just don’t do that no matter what?
    I just can’t see a human evolving to love less and fundamental still be able to kill, only to protect.
    That ship it can go down with. My apologies for subjective rant. Just thinking my concern. Cheers Captain

  • Pingback: Lawrence Krauss on Singularity.FM: Keep on Asking Questions()

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