Estonian Skype Founder Jaan Tallinn Wants to Save the World with Blockchain


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Jaan Tallinn is no stranger to distributed technologies – he’s considered to be one of the foremost experts on P2P technologies, and together with fellow Estonians Ahti Heinla and Priit Kasesalu worked out the core elements for Kazaa and Skype.

And now, according to a recent article in the Telegraph in the UK, Tallinn wants to save the world with Blockchain – and he has spent a year working out how the technology can be used to solve humanity’s biggest problems, from crime and corruption to deforestation and over-fishing.

“The interesting thing about Blockchain is that it has made it possible for humanity to reach a consensus about a piece of data without having any authority to dictate it,” Tallinn told the Telegraph. “Imagine if you could use this to solve bigger problems that require global co-ordination.”

According to the article,  he feels that Blockchain can solve the Tragedy of the Commons and came to this conclusion after reading Scott Alexander’s blog post – Meditations on Moloch.

The Tragedy of the Commons written by Garrett Hardin in 1968 in Science magazine focuses on how individually rational economic decisions can lead to environmental ruin. Using examples from early 19th century, agrarian England, his essay focuses on herders sharing a common parcel of land on which each is allowed to graze their sheep.  While overgrazing of the “commons” inevitably leads to the depletion/destruction of the parcel, each individual herder finds it in his/her economic interest to add an extra sheep or two to graze on the commons.  Thus can individually rational actions work to the detriment of all by destroying resources held in common. Essentially it’s about people’s short-term selfish interests at odds with long-term group interests and the common good.

“Shaming people into being virtuous doesn’t change behaviour,” claimed Mr Tallinn. “Incentive schemes, whereby people who have done the most good for humanity are rewarded 20 years into the future would create the expectation that doing long-term good is valuable.”

Tallinn, who is speaking at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool, is compiling a research paper on ways of using Blockchain to create more co-ordination mechanisms. 

He is a proponent for the study of existential risk and has given numerous talks on the topic and h e feels humanity is not spending enough resources on long-term planning and mitigating threats that could potentially wipe us out as a species. Tallinn is also one of the founders of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, and the Future of Life Institute.


About Richard Kastelein

Founder, Publisher and Editor in Chief of industry leading online publication, Blockchain News and co-founder and director at Blockchain Partners in London/Amsterdam/NYC. Kastelein is also an advisor with a number Blockchain startups doing ICOs including where hs is interim CMO,, Inchain, Chronobank, eGaas and others. He is regarded as one of the top journalists by the Blockchain and fintech communities – as is evident by his entry in the Top 150 Fintech journalists online and in the top 10 of the Blockchain Top 100 List.

As a prominent keynote presenter, he has spoken on Blockchain at events in Gdansk, Amsterdam, Minsk, Dubai, Antwerp, Eindhoven, Bucharest, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, Manchester, Brussels, Barcelona etc, where he helped spread the cause for Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency and, consequently, has built a notable network in the scene.

He’s also a director of a Dutch foundation called The Hackitarians and has run innovation events in London, San Francisco, Berlin, Amsterdam and other cities around the world on topics such Blockchain, Health, Energy, Internet of Things, AI etc.

In 2013, the European Commission appointed him as an expert for overseeing financing for emerging startups as a part of the European Commission’s 90 billion euro Horizon 2020 project, created in Brussels to promote innovation as a driving force of job creation and business ventures across Europe. He has also worked as an external expert for Innovate UK since 2012, judging startups for the UK government.

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