Sam Altman, the founder of artificial intelligence software ChatGPT, launched a new project on Monday that provides users with cryptocurrency in exchange for scanning their eyeballs.
He says the goal of Worldcoin, which was founded in 2020, is to create a new “identity and financial network owned by everyone.”
It will collect biometric information from its users, including through facial recognition and iris identification.
This information, the company says, will be used to create a system in which it is easier to differentiate real humans from AI.
Sam Altman (pictured) in a pitch letter on the company’s website believes that if successful, ‘Worldcoin could dramatically increase economic opportunity’
Users are asked to take an iris test using a silver ball known as the Worldcoin “orb” and those who participate will receive free Worldcoins.
On launching the project, OpenAI founder Altman said: “If successful, we believe Worldcoin could dramatically increase economic opportunity, scale a trusted solution to distinguish humans from AI online while preserving privacy, enable global democratic processes”.
However, not everyone has been as enthusiastic about Worldcoin as Altman, and some cryptocurrency industry figures have expressed concern.
We decided to take a look at how Worldcoin works, the value of the tokens, and what people should know before getting involved.
A participant stares at a silver Worldcoin Orb in exchange for crypto tokens
What are the potential security risks of Worldcoin?
Glen Goodman, author of The Crypto Trader, told This Is Money: “My first reaction was ‘there’s no way I’m putting my eyeball anywhere near that thing.’
‘The privacy implications make me very nervous. One of the main security risks is the orb itself. We don’t know what’s inside the sphere, and therefore we don’t know if it’s possible for someone to hack into the orbs and recover our iris scans.
When you scan your iris, you basically agree to hand over some of your most personal identifying information to a company based in the Cayman Islands.
“When you scan your iris, you basically agree to hand over some of your most personal identifying information to a company based in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. Do you trust that company will not misuse it? And if so, why?
The long-term value of the cryptocurrencies that users receive is also uncertain, he added.
“So far, the promise of free Worldcoins has attracted millions of people,” Goodman continued. “With cryptocurrencies, this type of advertising can, of course, greatly increase the value of the tokens, so £50 worth of tokens could become £100 or £500.
“But it looks like the number of tokens for sale on the open market will go up and up over the next few years, and of course, since the market is flooded with tokens, that will put downward pressure on the price. That doesn’t necessarily mean the price will crash, but it’s a risk investors should be aware of.”
Could AI really pay for a universal basic income?
Altman has also said that Worldcoin could become the basis for a future ‘AI-funded’ Universal Basic Income (UBI).
UBI is a policy concept whereby a country’s citizens would regularly receive a guaranteed income, without means test or the need to work.
It is not entirely clear how Worldcoin would allow such a policy to take effect.
But Anna Stone, the director of GoodDollar, praised Altman and the launch of Worldcoin.
GoodDollar is a community-driven non-profit project launched in 2020 that generates and distributes digital money as a means to create access to wealth for those facing poverty and inequality.
Stone said: ‘The launch of Worldcoin marks a huge milestone for both blockchain and UBI. Their effort to find a solution to decentralized ID is the most ambitious approach we’ve seen to date, and hopefully something others can build on.
“Nearly two billion people around the world currently lack access to basic financial services, such as a bank account, but the majority of this group will have smartphones, which means that with an Internet connection, they could access some form of Digital UBI.
“Therefore, Blockchain-based UBI offers the opportunity to create sustainable wealth in some of the world’s poorest places and the arrival of Worldcoin and Sam Altman in this space can help accelerate widespread awareness of this journey and its tremendous potential. “.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin responded to the launch by publishing a lengthy blog post expressing his concerns.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin responded to the launch by publishing a lengthy blog post in which he shared his concerns.
Although the 29-year-old considers a personality testing system “valuable”, he expressed concern about scanning someone’s iris as it could lead to more data sharing than necessary.
This could potentially lead to the disclosure of a person’s gender, ethnicity, and even medical conditions.
Twitter founder and big cryptocurrency advocate Jack Dorsey appeared to criticize Altman’s project in a series of tweets.
He also raised concerns about its practicality, this is because the ‘orb’ is a hardware device. If everyone wanted a global ID, everyone would need access to an ‘orb’ which would be difficult to implement, potentially limiting the number of people who will get involved.
Referring to the orb, the Russian-Canadian programmer also said that “we have no way of verifying that it was built correctly and that it doesn’t have backdoors.”
Twitter founder and longtime cryptocurrency advocate Jack Dorsey also appeared to raise privacy concerns about Altman’s project in a series of tweets, saying, “Visit the orb or the orb will visit you.”
What has the Government said about Worldcoin?
The Information Commissioner’s Office, which covers UK data privacy rights, said it will look into the business.
An ICO spokesperson said: ‘Organizations are required to carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment before commencing any processing likely to result in high risk, such as processing special category biometric data.
‘When they identify high risks that they cannot mitigate, they should consult the ICO.
Organizations must also have a clear legal basis for processing personal data. When they are based on consent, it must be freely given and be able to be withdrawn without prejudice.
“We take note of the launch of WorldCoin in the UK and will be enquiring.”
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