In a world where the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence has blurred the lines between human and machine-generated content, a new cryptocurrency has emerged to tackle the challenges of identity verification and online authenticity.
On July 24, 2023, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman introduced Worldcoin, a digital currency that goes beyond the conventional realms of blockchain technology. Unlike its cryptocurrency counterparts, Worldcoin takes a unique approach by harnessing the power of biometrics to redefine how we perceive and prove “personhood.”
Worldcoin has swiftly garnered global attention, amassing over 2 million sign-ups within just a week after its launch. This ambitious project, co-founded by Altman alongside Alex Blania and Max Novendstern, seeks to build a digital landscape by offering a biometric-based global identity and financial system. Its core mission revolves around three pivotal pillars: the creation of a universal digital identity, the introduction of a global currency named Worldcoin token (WLD), and the development of a user-friendly app facilitating transactions across various cryptocurrencies and traditional assets.
At the heart of Worldcoin’s ecosystem lies the World ID feature, which introduces the concept of “proof of personhood.” This is achieved through the use of the Orb, a device designed to scan users’ irises and generate a unique identification code called an IrisCode. Similar to fingerprints, each person’s iris pattern is distinct, providing a secure method of identification that is not linked to personal information. After scanning their irises, every individual acquires a WorldID, which is then stored on a decentralized blockchain. This code is used to prevent individuals from acquiring multiple World IDs. Notably, iris scans are not required for every identity verification, as the system relies on cryptographically secure apps for ongoing authentication.
World App takes the central stage in Worldcoin’s multifaceted ecosystem. It is a digital tool designed for a seamless cryptocurrency experience. The app provides a glimpse into Worldcoin’s overarching vision—a fusion of identity verification, cryptocurrency adoption, and financial inclusivity. Serving as a digital repository for individual World IDs, the World App facilitates secure transactions and interactions within the Worldcoin network.
The app ensures the secure storage and accessibility of users’ World IDs and related data. The World App offers more than just a storage solution for Worldcoin tokens (WLD); it serves as a gateway to the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), accommodating a variety of cryptocurrencies, including established names like Bitcoin and Ethereum. With this, users can explore a broader spectrum of financial activities, including lending, borrowing, staking, and yield farming.
WLD Cryptocurrency Token
The distribution of WLD tokens is intricately linked to the establishment of World IDs. As users undergo the process of obtaining their World IDs, they gain access to WLD tokens, providing them with a stake in the platform’s nascent cryptocurrency landscape.
Worldcoin aims to democratize access to financial resources. Altman says he wants to end income inequality globally with Worldcoinh by allocating tokens fairly and universally and, envisions launching universal basic income (UBI). However, the way it will happen is still unclear. The success of the WLD token is closely intertwined with the broader adoption of Worldcoin’s identity verification system.
The journey of WLD tokens in the market also brings to certain concerns, prominently the inherent volatility of the cryptocurrency landscape. The value of WLD tokens, like other cryptocurrencies is subject to rapid and unpredictable fluctuations. Influenced by factors ranging from market sentiment and technological developments to regulatory changes and macroeconomic trends, these price swings can be substantial and sometimes result in financial losses for investors. Crypto exchanges have listed WLD for trading, including KuCoin and Binance, the world’s largest exchange by volume.
During its launch, approximately 143 million WLD tokens were in circulation within the Worldcoin ecosystem. Among these tokens, 43 million were distributed to beta participants who engaged in the early stages of the platform’s development. Worldcoin’s long-term vision involves the issuance of a total of 10 billion WLD tokens. However, this ambitious process is projected to unfold over a span of 15 years.
Tools for Humanity
Behind the conception of Worldcoin stands Tools for Humanity, a company co-founded by Sam Altman. Renowned as the creator of ChatGPT and an instrumental figure in the AI landscape, Altman’s involvement in both AI development and the launch of Worldcoin seemingly showcases an irony in his role.
Criticisms and Privacy Concerns
One of the primary concerns centers around the extent of data collection and user consent. Critics have pointed out that Worldcoin’s representatives often engage in deceptive marketing practices, offering incentives such as free cash, local currency, Airpods, or promises of future wealth to entice users into participating in the biometric scanning process.
The platform’s data handling practices have also come under scrutiny. While Worldcoin claims to prioritize user privacy by anonymizing and securing biometric data through cryptographic methods, concerns persist about the storage and usage of this sensitive information. Some reports suggest that Worldcoin collects more personal data than it publicly acknowledges, including potentially invasive techniques such as contactless Doppler radar detection of vital signs.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin expressed reservations about the platform. Buterin’s concerns primarily revolve around the extensive collection of biometric data, particularly iris scans, and the potential risks associated with such practices. He has questioned the need for collecting and storing such sensitive information, pointing out that iris scans could potentially gather undisclosed personal information beyond what is explicitly communicated to users
Furthermore, Worldcoin’s extensive interest in developing countries has sparked debates about exploitation and ethical considerations as it was widely promoted in developing nations of Africa and Asia including India, with at least 17 locations – mostly in the Delhi NCR region and a few in Bengaluru.-`
The Future of Worldcoin
The future of Worldcoin holds both promise and challenges. A large part of its future success also hinges on its ability to navigate the global regulatory landscape.
Worldcoin’s mass adoption will be measured not only by its technological innovation but also by its ability to navigate challenges, engage with stakeholders, and provide meaningful solutions to real-world problems. As the platform aims to redefine personal identity, financial inclusivity, and digital currency adoption, its journey will continue to spark conversations about the intersection of technology, ethics, and human society.