Sam Altman, the famed artificial intelligence (AI) entrepreneur and founder of OpenAi – developers ChatGPT – has launched an ambitious new cryptocurrency project called the ‘Worldcoin’.
According to Altman, Worldcoin aims to create a revolutionary new identification and financial system that allows users to prove they are human and not a bot.
Sam Altman Unveils ‘Worldcoin’, A Proof-of-Personhood Crypto For The AI Age
On launch day, the company set up sites in several locations around the world, including Bengaluru, London, and Tokyo, where people got free Worldcoins in exchange for their biometric data. The process involves staring into a silver orb that scans the users’ faces and iris to prove they are a real person.
Participants were required to hold the orb’s camera lens onto their faces for about 10 seconds and wait for a beep to confirm the scan.
Once the scan is complete, the users’ biometrics are uploaded to a giant database that contains the identities of more than two million individuals from 33 different countries. Participants are then handed a unique number ID which can be verified by checking against the database.
Participants then sign up for the World App by entering their World ID, which gifts them a “Genesis grant” of 25 WLD tokens worth $2 each, at current valuation. Worldcoin says the ID number will be used to prove whether the entrant is a “real and unique person”, also giving them access to a digital wallet that holds the WLD tokens.
Worldcoin promises users that their biometric data will be well-preserved and protected. Its creators claim Worldcoin to be the world’s first blockchain network that freely distributes cryptocurrencies to people for just being real and identifiable human beings.
Sam Altman says the project has the potential to solve one of the more pressing problems posed by artificial intelligence-based technologies, which is the inability to find out whether a given data is produced by humans or an algorithm.
Tweeting his goals for Worldcoin, Altman said the project aims to establish a “global financial and identity network” based on proof-of-personhood, which the founder says “feels especially important in the AI era. He is hopeful that Worldcoin can provide solutions on how to access, benefit from, and govern future AI-based systems.
The World App allows users to conduct international payments, transfers, and purchases using a beta version of Worldcoin (Beta WLD) or other traditional cryptocurrencies. Currently, the app supports wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), wrapped Ether (WETH), DAI, and Circle’s USDC stablecoin.
The project, in the works for more than three years, was co-founded by a theoretical physics student, Alexa Bania. In a press release by the company on Monday, Bania said the need to prove if a person is real was no longer a topic of serious discussion in the age of artificial intelligence. She hopes Worldcoin can provide a privacy-focused, decentralized, and inclusive solution to address the problem.
Criticisms Alore For Worldcoin Regarding Its Use Of User Data
Since its launch, Worldcoin has grabbed global attention, with many having conflicting opinions. One of the main criticisms faced by the project was its use of biometric data – iris scan – to verify users’ identities.
Crypto folks are concerned about how the company manages to collect, store, and process such vital data without compromising privacy. Others criticized Worldcoin for incentivizing users in exchange for their personally identifiable information.
Twitter co-founder and CEO of crypto payments platform Block, Jack Dorsey, reacted to the launch by defining Worldcoin’s mission to “attempt at global scale alignment” in a single world – cute. He also added a warning for his followers: “Visit the Orb or the Orb will visit you”.
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum (ETH), was rather excited about the project’s launch but asked users to remain cautious. He stated that the process of letting an orb scan deeply into a person’s eyeballs has a “dystopian vibe” to it. But was supportive of the project, claiming that specialized hardware systems do a “decent job” of protecting privacy.
The computer programmer added that relying on specialized orbs to conduct scans could give Worldcoin too much power. People who are not involved with the crypto community creating a proof-of-personhood system that is effective and reliable “seems quite challenging”, said Buterin.
The U.K. Information Commisioner’s Office told the media that it was aware of Worldcoin’s launch in the country and will be making further inquiries into the project. Meanwhile, the Electronic Privacy Information Center – a U.S.-based nonprofit research organization – said Worldcoin’s data-collection method is a “potential privacy nightmare”.
Worldcoin (WLD) token, which is currently listed on Binance, OKX, and Bitget crypto exchanges, won’t be coming to the U.S. any time soon. Creators cite the regulatory crackdown on crypto assets and service providers by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as the main reason.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Altman said that the U.S. “does not make or break” the Worldcoin project but he did not expect it to be not accessible in the country.
While responding to criticisms, Altman said he is “super impressed” by the Worldcoin team’s efforts to get the project to this point. He urged the company to keep trying and not worry whether it will work out or not, adding that the negative comments by haters are giving the team more energy to prove them wrong.
With 2.06 million users from 120 countries already part of the crypto ecosystem, Altman’s ultimate goal is for Worldcoin to reach 2 billion subscribers. The company announced it will be onboarding 2,000 additional orb operators and expand the scanning operation to 35 cities across 20 countries.
At the time of writing, Worldcoin (WLD) is priced at $2.37 – up 17% in the last 24 hours. WLD has a total market capitalization of $261.1 million with 109.8 million out of the 10 billion tokens currently in circulation.