Established in 2019 by a trio of visionaries – Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, along with Max Novendstern and Alex Blania, Worldcoin has so far gathered over 2 million users since its launch on July 24. Thousands of people have been waiting in line to get their identity verified by Worldcoin’s orbs in what critics call the most dystopian crypto project ever.
Worldcoin’s approach to verifying users through the collection of biometric data, specifically iris scans, has sparked significant controversy and concerns about individual privacy and personal freedoms. The use of such sensitive and unique biometric information raises ethical questions and potential risks of misuse or abuse by malicious actors.
While Worldcoin touts the benefits of creating a globally inclusive identity network, critics argue that the mass collection of biometric data presents a grave threat to user privacy and autonomy.
They fear that such centralized storage of sensitive information could lead to unprecedented levels of surveillance and control, potentially paving the way for a surveillance state where citizens’ every move is tracked and monitored.
Notably, Worldcoin enjoys support from VC giant Andreessen Horowitz as the company states that its platform’s native token (WLD) is set to bring about: “a more unified global economy driven by the internet economy.”
How Does Worldcoin Work?
At its core, Worldcoin claims that its pioneering digital identity system empowers individuals to establish their authenticity and distinctiveness online while safeguarding their real-world identity.
The process is designed as follows:
• To begin, users must download the World App, the wallet application that facilitates the creation of their unique World ID.
• Subsequently, users will visit an Orb device, typically operated by independent local businesses referred to as Orb Operators.
• The Orb itself is a specialized biometric device equipped with advanced multispectral sensors, enabling it to verify a person’s humanness and uniqueness by scanning their eye’s iris.
• The collected biometric data is then encrypted and transformed into a secure digital proof that validates the user’s personhood without divulging any personal details.
• Based on Worldcoin’s proof-of-personhood (PoP) chain on the Ethereum blockchain, the World ID is issued within the Worldcoin protocol, ensuring the user’s identity is authenticated and protected throughout the digital realm.
Through this sophisticated and privacy-conscious process, Worldcoin claims that it aims to revolutionize the way individuals assert their online identities, fostering a more inclusive and secure environment in an increasingly interconnected world.
What is Worldcoin’s Proof of Personhood (PoP)?
At the heart of Worldcoin lies the Proof of Personhood protocol. The WorldID platform on world coin uses this protocol to solve the challenge of pseudonymity on the blockchain in the verification of its user’s identity.
At its core, a “Proof of personhood” blockchain network requires participants (users) to prove their identity as real, legitimate individuals before they can participate in certain activities or access certain features of the network. This is often done to prevent fraudulent or malicious behaviour, such as creating multiple fake accounts (sybil attacks) or engaging in other forms of abuse.
In traditional blockchain consensus algorithms like Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS), the emphasis is on proving ownership of a certain amount of computational resources (PoW) or cryptocurrency (PoS) to participate in the network and validate transactions.
Proof of personhood, on the other hand, introduces an element of real-world identity verification into the process. In the case of Worldcoin, this includes biometric authentication through the eye-scanning orb.
The goal of introducing proof of personhood is to enhance the security, fairness, and trustworthiness of a blockchain network by reducing the potential for malicious actors to manipulate the system.
However, it also raises concerns about privacy and the potential for centralization if implemented in a way that requires extensive personal information to be shared and verified.
At the crossroads of artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and decentralized identity solutions, a transformative epoch is emerging, exemplified by trailblazing initiatives like Worldcoin. This convergence is poised to reshape the trajectory of the internet, propelling us into the uncharted realms of Web 3.0 and beyond.
As the landscape of AI evolves with unprecedented sophistication, the urgency for establishing a rock-solid, privacy-centric proof of personhood becomes indisputable. Within this realm, decentralized identity systems, epitomized by Worldcoin’s innovative World ID, emerge not just as guardians of users’ digital personas but also as bedrocks of credibility for virtual interactions.
Detractors, however, raise poignant questions about the philosophical divergence between Worldcoin and the foundational ethos of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s genesis was rooted in the principles of decentralization, censorship resistance, and pseudonymity, aspiring to empower individuals with financial autonomy and emancipation from centralized oversight.
A New Age of the Internet
The intersection of AI, cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, and decentralized identification systems, as seen by pioneering efforts of projects like Worldcoin, will have a great impact on the future of the internet.
With the increased integration of AI across multiple industries, the future of human labour stands at the precipice of a transformative era – a new age of the internet. AI’s remarkable capabilities are reshaping traditional job landscapes, automating routine tasks, and augmenting human potential in unprecedented ways.
As AI-driven machines and algorithms continue to evolve, concerns about job displacement and the very nature of work have taken centre stage. Various reports from experts have warned that artificial intelligence can potentially replace 300 million full-time jobs.
According to reports, governments are working to promote investment in AI as experts foresee a future where AI becomes the ultimate driver of productivity across the global economy.
Given this outlook, there will be a need for humans to recessive income in novel ways, such as through a universal basic income system. UBI could provide a safety net, enabling individuals to adapt, upskill, and explore new avenues for creativity and innovation, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and economically balanced future.
Conclusion: Privacy Concerns Still Loom Large
As AI propels us into uncharted territories, embracing the potential of a universal basic income could well be the cornerstone of a society prepared to harness the opportunities and navigate the challenges of this rapidly changing landscape.
However, even as projects such as Worldcoin work to protect humanity from the negative effects of AI, it is important for privacy and security concerns to be addressed before the mass collection of private biometric data.