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Jaan Tallinn

Skype co-founder

Jaan Tallinn is a founding engineer of Skype and Kazaa who had been thinking about how he might be able to help reduce risks to the long-term survival of life on earth before he knew about the existence of the effective altruism movement. He was particularly struck by the problem that our instincts make it hard for philanthropists to realise the importance of abstract causes like existential risk reduction. Finding a community which took these concerns seriously was an exciting development, and he sees the movement as a potential solution to that problem.

Since learning about effective altruism, Jaan has become a supporter and promoter, raising awareness particularly among other tech entrepreneurs about how they can increase the chances of their actions having a positive impact on the world. He has also helped to found research organisations which work on the problem of existential risk reduction, such as the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, and provides philanthropic support to other organisations in this area. Besides providing financial resources, Jaan is interested in contributing directly to developing new and useful ideas in this area.

Whilst Jaan was already interested in all of these ideas before he came across effective altruism, he says that it is important and motivating to be part of something greater, and know that there are other people simultaneously working on the most pressing questions and problems of our time.