“Nothing like this has ever been done before and the outcome is uncertain,” wrote co-founders Sam Altman (of OpenAI and formerly YC) and Alex Blania on Worldcoin’s homepage.
The idea in short: Give every person on earth free cryptocurrency, ensuring fair & equal distribution.
The what and how of Worldcoin elicited scoffs across the internet with its launch yesterday, including in our own community. To be fair, Altman clearly understands the scope of the mission. Let's unpack it.
Universal basic income
UBI is an ancient concept but it's gained renewed interest in the last decade. Referendums and politicians pursuing a UBI recently have failed to make it happen, but some tech leaders (not just Altman) have taken it upon themselves to try. Enter Worldcoin. The makers have been conducting field tests where they use contractors who take a five-pound device into the field and use it to distribute cryptocurrency. The trick is to distribute it fairly...
Proof of Person
We live in a world full of bots and scammers. “The only solution for that problem, we found, was to build an orb,” Altman told CNBC. He calls this model “proof of person.”
The Orb device works by taking a picture of someone’s iris, creating/saving a hashcode, and verifying each entry is unique. Users can then gain access to a wallet in the app and the cryptocurrency Worldcoin. The iris images are encrypted, original data is deleted, and there’s no big database of biometric data, Blania explains.
So far over 100,000 users have collected Worldcoin across 12 countries — 700 per week.
Power in distribution
We write about innovative blockchain applications all the time, from coins that generate funds for cities to decentralized social networks. However, today only 3% of the global population uses crypto. Small networks are not just a barrier to UBI, but to crypto startups getting their ideas off the ground.
In this case, the makers of Worldcoin have chosen to build on Ethereum because of its developer network. Like other startups, they’re hoping to attract developers who can build atop their system to execute innovative applications of the coin. Unlike other startups, Worldcoin takes a pretty bottoms-up approach to building that network by acquiring users with literal feet on the ground.
Worldcoin offers a unique, albeit arduous approach to equalization — not only for crypto (which has been criticized for marking the rich richer) but for income globally.
What do you think about the approach — Unrealistic? Creepy? The future?
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