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Worldcoin Is Doing Biometric ID, AI, UBI And Other Tools For Humanity

Worldcoin, World App, World ID and Tools for Humanity. After the tremendous success of OpenAI's ChatGPT, its founder Sam Altman is exploring ambitious global projects combining blockchain technology and AI.

Sam Altman, Worldcoin l

At the project's community meetup in Seoul last weekend, Worldcoin co-founders Sam Altman and Alex Bania answered questions about the risks of biometric data collection, as well as the project's plans to integrate Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Universal Basic Income (UBI) solutions.

Seoul meetup. Source:

Worldcoin, started in 2019, promised to distribute its new digital money to everyone in the world in exchange for collecting their iris (eyeball) scans. However, it was not until its cofounder Sam Altman's ChatGPT conquered the world this year, that the project started to gained traction.

At the beginning of May Worldcoin announced the release of its first product – the World App. The application not only allows users to transact cryptocurrency but also includes a feature to 'prove your personhood' and get your unique World ID. The basic proof requires a phone number but for full verification users would need to personally visit the closest operator of the Worldcoin Orb device, an iris scanner developed and distributed by the company.

Worldcoin's Orb device. Source: Worldcoin

On May 25, Tools For Humanity, the company behind the Worldcoin project confirmed the closing of a $115 million Series C investment round led by Blockchain Capital and including such VCs as a16z, Bain Capital Crypto and Distributed Global.

Sam Altman, a Stanford dropout, founded his first company, Loopt in 2005, when he was 19. He joined the most prominent startup accelerator and VC, Y Combinator, and became its president in just 5 years. In 2020 Sam Altman left Y Combinator to focus full-time on OpenAI as CEO. Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI in 2019 and another $10 billion in 2023.

Sam Altman's Worldcoin is promising to combat two problems humanity faces with the advent of AI: sybil (pseudo-identity) attacks and the dissemination of realistic-looking and sounding AI-generated content. The project sees the solution in distributing a biometrically verified World ID that will be unique and available only to humans. Worldcoin hopes to incentivize people to sign up for the ID by giving away free coins.

Worldcoin geography and sign-ups in mid-June 2023. Source: Worldcoin

Answering the tough questions about the risks of misuse of the human biometric data that the project collects, Sam Altman argued that they will be greatly reduced once their software is open-sourced. He also talked about the benefits of biometric ID such as reduced costs and speed of transactions.

Sam Altman also shared his vision of the future use of Worldcoin:

“Think about the questions of how society will distribute access to AGI systems, the benefits of them, governance, how we’re going to differentiate between what is done by people and what is generated by machines. We don’t have answers to any of this yet. But if something like Worldcoin can work, I think that’s a quite interesting new tool to have.” [...] “You could imagine a system like Worldcoin being used for global UBI at some point. We have a lot of progress to make and economic growth to achieve before we can do that, but some day.”

The idea of decentralized blockchain based ID systems is not new. Adding biometrics to its design would also seem to be a natural progression. However the implementation raises many questions such as control of the biometrics collection and entry, privacy and security issues. Nevertheless the project looks interesting and we will continute to Observe it.