Jaan Tallinn

is an Estonian programmer who participated in the development of Skype and FastTrack / Kazaa. Jaan Tallinn is partner and co-founder of the development company Bluemoon which created the game SkyRoads.

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jaantallinn427 karma

microsoft: skype was acquired 3-4 times, depending on how you count, and microsoft was certainly different, since the earlier acquirers basically left the company mostly untouched (eg, it continued being a luxembourg business), whereas microsoft seems to be actually trying to squeeze out as much value (a.k.a. "synergies") from skype as possible (eg, actually integrating skype into their platforms and products).

PRISM: interesting situation. basically we have the word (and documents) of a whistleblower against the word of PR departments of respected tech companies. without knowing the details (just having read couple of articles from HN) i would assign equal credence to both sides.

jaantallinn348 karma

oh, wow, an excellent question! i think programming can help people to overcome the mind projection fallacy, because you develop a sense of what it means to have your thoughts fully specified. this is extremely important in philosophy (not to mention other areas!) that has a really bad track record due to treating intuitions as evidence (or, as my friend michael vassar puts it, "philosophers have been spectacularly bad at recognising that their insights are produced by cognitive algorithms"). in my view philosophers have had thousands of years to come up with interesting thoughts and questions, but now we need answers, and they better be in the form of executable computer code!

jaantallinn334 karma

thanks :) i once did a quick fermi calculation at a party to estimate that i can take credit for roughly a million saved human relationships :)

jaantallinn256 karma

capital city: heh, yeah, i wish.. tallinn (the city) has about a 1000-year head-start on me unfortunately. which when we'll be looking back on this in a couple of billion years will hardly matter of course :)

kazaa and malware: what happened was that a) kazaa (like napster before it) failed to negotiate licensing deals with content companies, while b) the "paid downloads" industry was offering extremely lucrative deals.

one thing to remember is that malware industry pretty much started around then and co-evolved with the likes of kazaa -- so it was constantly trying to find a balance between agressiveness and sustainability. much like real world viruses are, i might add.

jaantallinn216 karma

right, that's a good point. what i've seen happen in PR departments is that they really want to avoid outright lying, but are OK with using careful wording and exotic definitions to make the meaning come out in certain light.

jaantallinn162 karma

you're welcome, especially if you put it that way :)

jaantallinn154 karma

internally we pronounced it ka-ZAH. the project was originally called KAA (after a restaurant in amsterdam, i was told), but we were not able to procure kaa.com domain, so the project was renamed to kazaa.

interestingly, similar thing happened to skype -- it was originally called skyper, but skyper.net was taken, so we dropped the "r".

jaantallinn142 karma

most: out of the well known figures, i would have to go with elon musk -- it's uncanny how much he resembles hank rearden! least: no one in particular comes to mind, but as a reference class, i would probably go with people who optimise their companies to be as fashionable as possible in order to attract investments (vs doing something that makes an actual difference). not that i can't understand them.

jaantallinn141 karma

sometimes journalists ask me what's the "secret of estonia" -- i believe a large part of it is that we were "lucky" to be in a position of having to completely rebuild our infrastructure in the 90-s when the web was already around (and having young people in charge -- one of our early prime ministers, mart laar, was 32 years old at the time!). kind of similar advantage that new startups have over old companies -- having less legacy systems and hence more flexibility to take advantage of recent technological environment.

jaantallinn97 karma

haha! as my american friends would say, exciting! :)