Sam Altman’s ambitious iris-scanning project Worldcoin is a decentralised financial and identity network built for the AI era.
Worldcoin will begin its international rollout today, founder and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has confirmed. Users can now download the World App in 35 cities across 20 nations, excluding the US due to regulatory pushback.
The Worldcoin protocol aims to give people universal access to the global economy through a decentralized identity and financial network.
It’s built with the future of AI in mind, best exemplified through ‘The Orb’ – a biometric imaging device that scans the iris of a user in order to verify them as a unique human being, rather than a neural network or robot.
Once an iris scan is complete and ‘personhood’ has been proven, Worldcoin creates a cryptographic hash that can be used to anonymously identify users through the World App. Once verified, users can securely sign in to websites, mobile apps and crypto dapps without sharing personal data like a name or email address.
“This lets you prove you are a real and unique person online while remaining completely private,” Altman said.
Users will need to visit an Orb in order to obtain their World ID. Altman stated, “As the global distribution of Orbs is ramping up, you can find the closest one and book time to be verified with World App and at worldcoin.org.”
Worldcoin was founded more than three years ago, and it’s received funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, internet entrepreneur Reid Hoffman and Sam Bankman-Fried.
The network is “owned by everyone”, Altman said. “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 UBI (Universal Basic Income).”
While some have expressed privacy concerns over the collection of biometric data, Altman has emphasised that maintaining privacy is one of the main goals of the project. According to the Worldcoin blog, The Orb’s mainboard processes information locally, so images never leave the device unless a person explicitly requests it.
Speaking at StrictlyVC in January, Altman said, “To me personally, the amount of privacy you give up to use Facebook or something versus the amount of privacy you give up for a scan of your retina and nothing else — I’d much rather have the latter.”
More than two million users signed up for Worldcoin during beta.
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