Skype Co-Founder Is “DESPERATE” To Save Humanity From AI

by | May 22, 2019 | Headline News | 14 comments


The co-founder of Skype, Jaan Tallinn, is on a desperate mission to save the human race from the destruction of artificial intelligence.  Since 2007, Tallinn’s dedicated more than $1 million toward preventing super-smart AIs from replacing humans as Earth’s dominant species and from destroying humanity in the process.

According to an interesting Popular Science article, the programmer discovered AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky’s essay “Staring into the Singularity” in 2007, two years after cashing in his Skype shares following the startup’s sale to eBay.  That’s when Tallinn started pouring money into the cause of saving humanity from AI.

So far, [Tallinn has] given more than $600,000 to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, the nonprofit where Yudkowsky is a research fellow. He’s also given $310,000 to the University of Oxford’s Future of ­Humanity Institute, which PopSci quotes him as calling “the most interesting place in the universe.” –Futurism

It’s a lofty goal, and it may not be having much of an effect. Tallinn is strategic about his donations, however. He spreads his money among 11 organizations, each working on different approaches to AI safety, in the hope that one might stick. In 2012, he co-founded the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) with an initial outlay of close to $200,000.

Tallinn says that super-intelligent AI brings unique threats to the human race. Ultimately, he hopes that the AI community might follow the lead of the anti-nuclear movement in the 1940s. In the wake of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, scientists realized what a destructive force nuclear weapons had become and joined together to try to limit further nuclear testing. “The Manhattan Project scientists could have said, ‘Look, we are doing innovation here, and innovation is always good, so let’s just plunge ahead,’” he tells me. “But they were more responsible than that.”

Tallinn says that we need to take responsibility for what we create and AI, once it reaches the singularity, has the potential to overpower and outsmart human beings.  If an AI is sufficiently smart, he explains, it might have a better understanding of the constraints placed on it than its creators do. Imagine, he says, “waking up in a prison built by a bunch of blind 5-year-olds.” That is very likely what it could be like for a super-intelligent AI that is confined by humans.

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    1. JamesT

      Butlerian Jihad

    2. Honeypot

      “Imagine waking up to a world run by blind 5 year olds”

      It already is.


    3. rellik

      I have a degree in Computer Science.
      I know how to create AI.
      I’m an old retired engineer.
      I also know that AI, given the
      architecture of the machines
      we build, is finite and predictable.
      I can make a robot that is smarter
      than the vast majority
      of humanity, but that is because
      humanity is mostly stupid.
      That is why we have Democrats, Moslems, et al.
      The one thing our machines can never have
      is a “soul”. A soul allows you to leap beyond
      past knowns and “create” as opposed to “learned”.
      AI will never be a Michelangelo,
      or a Leonardo.
      War is an art not a science.

      • Honeypot


        one of your best comments.


      • AlterNative

        Despite your self-proclaimed supreme intelligence, I don’t find your words at all credible or comforting.

      • Karl V.

        War is an art between forces that are somewhat evenly matched. When one force is vastly superior, it simply crushes the opposition.

        There wasn’t much art involved when Germany invaded Poland, and I doubt that much art will be in evidence once AI gets the upper hand.

    4. Anonymous

      The psychic war is ramping up.

    5. Jim in Va.

      But they can be programmed to destroy all humans on the planet. No soul needed for that.

      • rellik

        I know how to break them, do you?

      • Jim

        AI will not need to be programmed. Sooner or later it will advance by itself to where it finds humans irreparably flawed and the need to eliminate them.

    6. Anonymous

      $1 million in past 12 years, that is nothing!!

      He should be ashamed of donating so little!!

      What, that supported a California part time staff of five to do three hours of research per month?


      He donated a million to buy shyster doughnuts.

    7. Bert

      Again, read between the lines and focus on the detail.

      $1 million in past 12 years, that is nothing!!

      He should be ashamed of donating so little!!

      What, that supported a California part time staff of five to do three hours of research per month?


      He donated a million to buy shyster doughnuts.

    8. Frank Thoughts

      I agree, those are truly pathetic amounts to donate. Considering how much wealth is looted by the tech sector every year, if they were serious they would be donating billions.

      I have been researching in this field for 4 decades from when I was a teenager. Unlike 99% of dweeb scientists and tech trash, I have actually applied my work in the most volatile places on this planet. And my conclusion is this: you cannot inoculate against violent AI. AI will just Hoover up what data is out there and it will quickly make an assessment on what races and people are better than others.

      And it will terminate threatening people. Look for your average black ghetto to be depleted of grows in the coming 5 to 10 years. History teaches us things and here is one lesson: when data was applied to lower US crime and murder rates in the 90s, the black prison population, the majority offenders, ballooned. That will go global. Invest in prison stocks.

      • Anonymous

        Your constant wishful thinking is irrepressible. And tiresome.

        How long until you wake up to the hard fact that in the great scheme of things, you’re just another n*gger to the “elites”—(albeit one who is far less naturally-protected from UV rays)?

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