The cryptocurrency project Worldcoin was launched on July 24th, 2023, by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman with the core offering of a World ID, in other words, a “digital passport.”
The company behind the project, Tools For Humanity, believes that it will be able to prove that its holder is a real human online and not an AI bot. This they say will be necessary in the age of generative AI chatbots like the popular ChatGPT, which produce remarkably humanlike language.
The company also distributes a crypto token, the Worldcoin (WLD), to people “just for being a unique individual” they say as Worldcoin will function differently from market leader’s Bitcoin or Ethereum by offering people a token of the future currency without requiring that they invest any funds.
The company’s website described Worldcoin as an Ethereum-based “new, collectively owned global currency that will be distributed fairly to as many people as possible.” Everyone in the world would get a free share, the company suggested—if they agreed to an iris scan with a specially designed device that resembles a decapitated robot head, which the company refers to as the “chrome orb.”
We know by now that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t we?
ChatGPT and OpenAI
Altman and OpenAI, who are in fact the startup behind ChatGPT, have been in the spotlight since late last year and with interest in artificial intelligence growing by leaps and bounds attracted significant investors’ interest. In June, Tools For Humanity raised $115 million in a Series C funding round led by Blockchain Capital and joined by a16z and other prominent investors from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest venture capital firms, including Andreessen Horowitz and Blockchain Capital.
Undeterred customers who sign up and obtain a World ID, must do an in-person iris scan using Worldcoin’s ‘orb’, a silver ball approximately the size of a bowling ball. This scan is a way of ensuring that it is only humans that are able to sign up and once the person is verified by the orb’s iris scan their World ID is created (Source).
“Worldcoin is mostly trying to innovate on the authentication side,” said Jeremy Clark from the Canada-based Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering.
Anyone can use cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, Clark explained, signing up with as many identities as they want, but Worldcoin is “trying to get one and only one (address) to basically everyone on the planet.”
The Crypto Coin
This, it seems, is going well too, as since its beta period, which started in 2019, the project has 2 million users who have perhaps been enticed by the “free” tokens, and the worry of total control over their finances with the soon to be launched Central Bank Digital Currency. The result is that those who sign up in certain countries and the crypto token Worldcoin is scaling up “orbing” operations to 35 cities in 20 countries since its launch on Monday.
Additionally, WLD’s price rose in early trading on Monday, peaking at $5,29 on the world’s largest exchange, Binance, and at 1000 GMT was at $2.49 from a starting price of $0.15, having seen $25.1 million of trading volume, according to Binance’s website (Source).
However, the WLD token is subject to the same volatility as all other cryptocurrencies, and “there’s nothing to say that any company is going to accept this for payment or that you can do anything with it,” said Peter Howson, a crypto expert from Britain’s Northumbria University.
Altman and co-founder Alex Blania admited in a roll-out announcement that “Worldcoin is an attempt at global scale alignment, the journey will be challenging, and the outcome is uncertain.”
Universal Basic Income
The founders do, however, seem certain that they want the currency to act as a form of universal basic income that would allow more equitable access to the global economy. UBI social benefits program is usually run by governments where every individual is entitled to payments.
Yet he thought a world with UBI would be “very far in the future” and he did not have a “clear idea of what entity could dole out money.” He imagined that Worldcoin lays the groundwork for it to become a reality and believes that the reality could help to combat income inequality because AI “will do more and more of the work that people now do.”
Altman claims that Worldcoin can help address how the economy will be reshaped by generative AI “People will be supercharged by AI, which will have massive economic implications,” he said, and “We think that we need to start experimenting with things so we can figure out what to do,” he said.
Are we really going to fall for another experiment, this time for free crypto?
However, this is not free “money” that is being doled out to individuals, by the issuing of these crypto tokens as each and every individual is giving the company access to their biometric data in return.
Despite Blainia’s claims that Blockchains can store the World IDs in a way that preserves privacy and can’t be controlled or shut down by any single entity, Worldcoin has drawn criticism from tech experts over perceived privacy risks.
Don’t Catalogue Eyeballs
It has even drawn criticism over its handling of biometric data from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden when the project was first introduced in 2021 in a tweet and Snowden tweeted the response “Don’t catalogue eyeballs.”
Snowden’s tweets continued “Don’t use biometrics for anti-fraud. In fact, don’t use biometrics for anything.” (source) Snowden quoted Altman “We use ZK-proofs!” and said, “Great, clever. Still bad. The human body is not a ticket-punch”.
MIT Technology Review
Concerns were also raised in an investigation by MIT Technology Review who also picked up on the company’s failure to destroy data despite saying “To ensure users’ privacy, once its systems are optimised, it will anonymize and destroy users’ biometric data.”
Even though it has recorded and stored thousands of iris scans to train its algorithms the company admits that “biometric information remains on the orb and is deleted once uploaded—or at least it will be one day, once the company has finished training its AI neural network to recognize irises and detect fraud” (source).
In the meantime, valuable data was not receiving privacy at all.
Deception, exploited workers, and cash handouts
The MIT review also voiced concerns over Worldcoin’s method of collecting biometric data from developing countries, such as Indonesia, Kenya, and Colombia during the testing of the project. The MIT researchers revealed that “the high-tech orb itself, armed with advanced cameras and sensors that not only scanned irises but took high-resolution images of “users’ body, face, and eyes, including users’ irises,” according to the company’s descriptions in a blog post.
“Worldcoin representatives were showing up for a day or two and collecting biometric data. In return, they were known to offer everything from free cash (often local currency as well as Worldcoin tokens) to Airpods to promises of future wealth. In some cases they also made payments to local government officials. What they were not providing was much information on their real intentions.” The incentive for these individuals was a mere $20 worth of WLD tokens, at the rate of $2.50 per week for some and the currency had not even launched, “the company “do[es] not yet know how many WLD tokens would be equivalent to USD $20,” said MIT.
“The testing conducted in developing countries is “emblematic of a practice in the tech industry to experiment on communities that don’t have as much agency and might be more easily coerced into engaging in the project.”Molly White a crypto researcher from the website Web3 is Going Just Great.
MIT researchers argue that “it’s unclear how this data is being handled” The company has yet to provide a deadline for deleting data.” in the meantime all data is at risk of falling into the wrong hands. (source).
Our data is very much sought after and we are fast becoming a data colony and it can be used both covertly and efficiently to gain total control over us all. Due to advances in computer science, machine learning, and AI, those monitoring the data will have the ability to know us better than we know ourselves, according to historian Professor Yuval Noah Harari
Advisor to Klaus Schwab and the WEF, Harari warned us in 2018 that there will be no hiding from the technology, nor will we as individuals have any say whatsoever about refusing it (source). It is our data that our enemy will use to further enslave us and strip away our human rights. Let’s not be tempted by their child-snatcher tactics, hey?
Altman – Would you trust this man?
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