Tech and cryptocurrency communities are abuzz with discussions about the ambitious Worldcoin project, co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and Alex Blania. The startup’s vision is to “increase economic opportunity” and distinguish humans from AI, but it has been met with mixed reactions, with some notable personalities raising eyebrows about its centralization, privacy and security.
As Techcrunch so succinctly put it, Worldcoin project is Altman’s “audacious eyeball-scanning crypto startup.” They aim to bring crypto out into world, entice everyone with a smartphone to get a crypto wallet, but to do so, people must submit a scan of their iris to prove that they are human.
This step, done through an Orb, the company’s specialized eye-scanning hardware, provides “proof-of-personhood” that they say is cryptographically secured and used as a World ID. This World ID will then be stored on the user’s mobile devices where it will used to “prove you are a real and unique person online while remaining completely private.”
From the get-go, it all already sounds like a lot could go wrong. Basically, to get into a new “global” crypto ecosystem you may or may not yet really need, you’ll need to turn over a scan of your identity in exchange for tokens you can’t yet use and just trust that it would be kept safe in a centralized database.
Twitter creator Jack Dorsey has posted a series of tell-me-you-don’t-like-it-without-saying-you-don’t-like-it tweets about the new project, including one that sarcastically called Altman and Blania’s goal for Worldcoin to be “an attempt at global scale alignment” cute.
Dorsey is a known Bitcoin proponent and is co-founder and currently the CEO of Block, Inc, the tech conglomerate that helped establish the Lightning Network which aims to speed up Bitcoin transaction times and decreases network congestion to make crypto more viable for day-to-day use.
Among his many Worldcoin-hating content, Dorsey responded with an “Ofc” to a tweet about the startup’s backers.
The startup has raised $250 million from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and interestingly: the now-disgraced and bankrupt Sam Bankman-Fried and Three Arrows Capital, as EthHub co-founder Anthony Sassano was quick to point out.
Dorsey also indirectly remarked on the world domination vibe of Altman’s new technology, saying “Visit the Orb or the Orb will visit you.” Before its official launch this week, Worldcoin had been bringing the Orb around the world, signing up individuals in many countries, and getting accused of having exploitative practices in poorer nations. They were able to verify more than 2 million “unique humans” across 30 different countries from May 2021 to July 2023.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin is also in the critics caravan. He wrote a piece on how he feels about proof of personhood where he raised concerns about the ability of users to remain anonymous and reiterated the very real possibility of privacy leaks.
“Risks include unavoidable privacy leaks, further erosion of people’s ability to navigate the internet anonymously, coercion by authoritarian governments, and the potential impossibility of being secure at the same time as being decentralized,” he wrote.
Information for this story was found via Techcrunch, Benzinga, Cointelegraph, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.