Worldcoin, the bizarre eyeball-scanning cryptocurrency token co-founded by OpenAI boss Sam Altman, made its debut on Monday with a pledge to serve as a “privacy-preserving” global financial system.
The controversial project requires customers to scan their retina using a device called an “Orb,” described as a “biometric verification device,” in an exchange for a so-called “World ID” that is unique to each user.
“The goal is simple: a global financial and identity network based on proof of personhood. this feels especially important in the AI era,” Altman tweeted alongside an announcement of the launch. “I’m hopeful Worldcoin can contribute to conversations about how we share access, benefits, and governance of future AI systems.”
Altman and other backers say the technology will help to distinguish humans from bots online as artificial intelligence usage expands – and even provide a platform to facilitate a “universal basic income” in the future by cutting down on identity fraud.
“If successful, we believe Worldcoin could drastically increase economic opportunity, scale a reliable solution for distinguishing humans from AI online while preserving privacy, enable global democratic processes, and eventually show a potential path to AI-funded UBI,” Altman and fellow co-founder Alex Blania said in a statement.
After debuting at a price of $1.70 per token, Worldcoin surged as high as $3.58, according to data from CoinMarketCap.
Its value hovered near $2.30 as of 10:45 a.m. ET.
However, Worldcoin was not be available in the US at launch due to regulatory concerns.
“Worldcoin consists of a privacy-preserving digital identity (World ID) and, where laws allow, a digital currency (WLD) received simply for being human,” the co-founders said. “We hope that, where the rules are less clear, such as in the US, steps will be taken so more people can benefit from both.”
Worldcoin is the latest major project from Altman, who rose to worldwide prominence in recent months as the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT accelerated a race to develop advanced AI.
Earlier this year, Microsoft invested $10 billion in OpenAI.
Worldcoin’s bare-bones website includes the statement from Altman and Blania, as well as prompts for users to schedule an Orb visit, download the “World app” or read the Worldcoin white paper.
The firm behind the Worldcoin project is Tools for Humanity, which has offices in San Francisco and Berlin.
Aside from its creepy eyeball-scanning requirement, Worldcoin has already generated some controversy ahead of its wide rollout.
The platform faced criticism for offering “free” scans in some areas, as well as for allegedly fueling the trade of biometric data on the black market.
In May, The Financial Times reported that Altman was in “advanced talks” to secure about $100 million in additional funding for Worldcoin.
The project’s investors include indicted FTX kingpin Sam Bankman-Fried and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.
More than two million users had already signed up for Worldcoin’s beta.
As part of its global launch, Worldcoin will have “orbs” in 35 cities across 20 countries.
With Post wires
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