Lazy eyes listen
On Monday, Worldcoin, a digital ID verification firm that claims to distinguish real humans from AI by scanning their irises with a future ‘Orb’ and recording their identities on the blockchain, introduced a crypto token with the same name.
According to the project’s website, it is a “digital currency received simply for being human,” and it has the potential to “drastically increase economic opportunity, scale a reliable solution for distinguishing humans from AI online while preserving privacy, enable global democratic processes, and eventually show a potential path to AI-funded UBI.”
Despite these objectives, the Worldcoin currency appears to be used only to reward people for joining up for Worldcoin. This hasn’t stopped major cryptocurrency exchanges from listing the token: Binance, OKX, Huobi, Bybit, and Gate were among the platforms that began allowing WLD trading to their users on Monday.
To receive the equivalent of a global digital passport, Worldcoin users must physically travel to a site where an iris-scanning ‘Orb’ is present. According to the project’s inventors, this will become important as technology progresses to identify humans from AI bots.
While some have criticized the Worldcoin ecosystem as a dystopian assault on privacy based on exploitation of the poor, co-founder Alex Blania told Reuters that blockchain storage was really privacy-preserving, while Altman has argued that it will actually combat income disparity. Biometric scans, according to the business, are more secure than supplying personal information such as phone numbers to prove one’s identification.
However, according to a research conducted by MIT Technology Review, the onboarding process collected far more personal data than Worldcoin officially admits, promising to encrypt and safely keep it until it can be removed without releasing a white paper outlining how this will be done.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, for example, tweeted on Monday that “at no time should a corporation or state own any part of the global financial system” in response to the Worldcoin account’s launch tweet.
In a tweet presenting Worldcoin as “a global financial and identity network based on proof of personhood,” Altman claimed that over 2 million people had already signed up for the project during its beta phase. This falls well short of the initial target of 1 billion people by 2023.
Altman acknowledged that AI technology had the potential to go “quite wrong” in testimony before the US Congress earlier this year, and even revealed that he dreaded delivering “significant harm to the world” through technology.