What is Worldcoin?
All about the controversial identity protocol
It’s the Orb’s world, and we’re just living in it. 🔮
The company Tools for Humanity (founded by ChatGPT CEO Sam Altman & Alex Blania) recently announced World ID and Worldcoin protocol.
It aims to authenticate real humans (privately) in a world increasingly infiltrated by deepfakes and AI. And it’s been co-created by… one of the most notable founders in AI…?
So is it really part of the solution, or is it creating problems we haven’t even imagined yet? Here is everything you need to know about Worldcoin and World ID in a 5-minute read.
The Worldcoin protocol has been in the works for over three years, but the official rollout started on Tuesday. It includes:
World ID: A privacy-preserving digital identity
World App: Holds your World ID and acts as a digital wallet
Worldcoin: “The first digital currency to be freely distributed to people for just being a unique human”
GET READY WITH ME TO GO TO MY EYEBALL SCAN 👁️👁️
A World ID acts as your “Proof of Personhood.” They can be issued to every unique human through biometric verification devices, but in order to get verified, you need to visit an Orb location (there will be 1,500 around the world) and scan your dang eyeballs.
PS: According to an article from Coindesk, Orb operators are incentivized not just by the quantity but also the quality and retention rate of the signups. Interesting.
The protocol uses zero-knowledge proofs to verify that the irises in your eyes are yours, but it doesn’t store that information as personally identifiable. By default, the Orb promptly deletes iris images after the creation of the iris code.
Basically, the Orb is able to verify that you are an actual person, all while you’re remaining anonymous. That’s what it claims.
Once you get verified, the World App acts as an Ethereum-based wallet where you can send and receive funds, and claim Worldcoin… if it’s available in your country.
UNITED STATES: SORRY SWEETIE 😥
At the time of this post, Worldcoin ($WLD) is $2.47. Those who can claim after a scan are reportedly receiving about $70 worth of $WLD.
…But the United States is one of the “restricted territories” on the list. Similar to ApeCoin staking, people in the good ‘ol USA aren’t supposed to claim these tokens due to the regulatory environment.
We’re really no fun these days. 🥺
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THE POSSIBLE RISKS
Many people are not exactly lining up to scan their eyes, even though similar biometrics are used for services like Clear and even FedNow.
The problems with World ID and Worldcoin have been a hot topic on Twitter X.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin shared his thoughts on four key risks: privacy, accessibility (to Orbs), centralization (Orbs are physical devices), and security. He even claimed that someone could 3D print somebody’s eyes to try to manipulate the system.
Indeed, a black market of scans already emerged months ago.
Worldcoin has a $24 billion fully diluted market cap. The tokenomics have been described as “fuzzy.” There have been many accusations of market manipulation, which claim that $WLD supply is overwhelmingly held by market-making firms instead of traders.
In April of 2022, MIT Technology Report published a huge feature: “Deception, exploited workers, and cash handouts: How Worldcoin recruited its first half a million test users.”
When the Orb idea was unveiled in 2021, Edward Snowden said that despite the zero-knowledge proofs, “The human body is not a ticket-punch.”
On the Worldcoin website, they outline some known limitations. It’s the unknown ones that make me uneasy.
THE POSSIBLE BENEFITS
I think this one is best to leave in Worldcoin’s own words:
If successful, we believe Worldcoin could 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 Universal Basic Income.
Proof of Personhood
So… what’s the point of all this? If a global World ID passport works and everyone signs up… then what? Will it actually stop us from being the next characters in our own Netflix show?
Sam Altman’s super-ambitious company may become a trusted, crypto-based alternative to KYC or Anti-Money Laundering methods. Or it may just fade away.
It’s still TBD if I’ll go to my eyeball scanning appointment in LA this week. Follow me on X (that still just sounds wrong) to find out.
i made this, can you believe
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