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What just happened? OpenAI boss Sam Altman might be best known for his AI company, but he’s also involved in other big projects. One of these is the Worldcoin Foundation – a crypto network that uses an iris-scanning identification system to give people access to a digital currency. It is now rolling out globally, except in the US.
Worldcoin’s system uses orbs packed with iris-scanning technology to establish an individual’s identity; they’re designed to tell the difference between humans and robots, something that is becoming more difficult in the age of advanced AI. It then creates a digital World ID that can be used pseudonymously in a wide variety of everyday applications without revealing the person’s identity. Once their identity has been established, users can receive free Worldcoin tokens.
On Monday, the Berlin and San Francisco-based start-up announced that its technology will be available in 35 cities across 20 countries, writes the Financial Times. However, one notable exception is the US.
With United States regulators increasing their scrutiny of all things crypto, Worldcoin will not initially be available in the States.
“When we started thinking about this, we didn’t think it would end up as ‘world minus the US coin’ and here we are,” Altman told the Financial Times. “I’d say there’s 95% of the world’s population not in the US. The US does not make or break a project like this.”
Crypto had a nightmare in 2022 when TerraUSD and support coin Luna crashed in May, wiping almost $1 trillion off the crypto markets. The collapse of Celsius and FTX dealt another huge blow. There has been some recovery this year, though. Bitcoin was at $16,505 at the start of 2023, but it’s currently at $29,293, an increase of 77%.
Using eye-scanning technology has brought questions about potential privacy or health risks. Worldcoin assures users that the devices don’t store biometric data and will not hurt eyes.
Worldcoin plans to issue 10 billion tokens over 15 years, with 75% going to users, 13.5% to investors of Tools for Humanity, 9.8% to the initial development team, and 1.7% in reserve. At launch, the maximum circulating supply of WLD is 143 million. The company plans to retain about 20% of all tokens it issues, using their value to fund “Orb production and initial protocol development […] ecosystem development and maintenance.”
Company executives say that Worldcoin could also provide a form of universal basic income that could offset the job losses caused by the increased use of AI. An interesting view, given Altman’s link to ChatGPT. But the project is still a for-profit business. “There will eventually be a bunch of different wallets and experiences which will make money,” said Worldcoin co-founder Alex Blania.