Growth Mindset Podcast

81: Existential Risks - Jaan Tallinn, CoFounder Skype, Kazaa

December 23rd, 2019

Meet Jaan Tallinn – an Estonian hacker, physicist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor, who is known for being the co-founder of Kazaa, a file-sharing platform, and his participation in the development of Skype that took communication to a whole new level.

Since then, he has co-founded many more companies, been an advisor to the President of Estonia and focused heavily on effective altruism and mitigating existential risks from AI.


  • How programming nourishes the cognitive abilities.

  • The drastic contrast in gaming about twenty to thirty years ago and gaming today.

  • Why programming and other tech-related skills were more valued or exciting in the past.

  • How Kazaa and Skype became successful – luck and effort combined.

  • We are the dominant species on Earth for being the best planners on Earth.

  • The reason why species have gone extinct is that we are modifying the environment to suit us and our needs while making it uninhabitable for them. Superhuman AI may do the same to us.

  • How creating machines that are better planners than us can threaten our dominance on Earth.

  • Incorporating our idea of a good future in those machines or aligning their ideas with ours can help combat this issue.

  • Unpredictability, once introduced into AI, can pose a huge threat to the human race.
  • Jaan

    Future of Life Institute
    Effective Altruism
    80000 hours project


    My name is Sam Harris. I am a British entrepreneur, investor and explorer. From hitchhiking across Kazakstan to programming AI doctors I am always pushing myself in the spirit of curiosity and Growth. My background is in Biology and Psychology with a passion for improving the world and human behaviour. I have built and sold companies from an early age and love coming up with unique ways to make life more enjoyable and meaningful.



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