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Worldcoin – Sam Altman’s Ambitious Vision for an AI-Powered “World Currency”

Probably everyone once had such a dream: “Do nothing, and someone will pay you every day when you lie down.”
Now, this seemingly absolute “daydream” from all angles really has a chance to come true.
On July 24, local time, the cryptocurrency Worldcoin co-founded by OpenAI leader Sam Altman was officially launched.
As soon as it was launched, Worldcoin rose from the initial price of 1.70 US dollars to 3.58 US dollars, and the currency price rose by 111% on the first day.
What exactly is Worldcoin, and what does it have to do with AI superstar Sam Altman? Behind Worldcoin, what kind of ambition is hidden by Sam Altman?

01
The “World Currency” of the people of the world

Even a year ago, Musk was the most famous tech star in the world; now, OpenAI founder Sam Altman may be more famous than Silicon Valley Iron Man.
Musk and Altman have one thing in common, though—a super-successful main business has a more ambitious sideline. Musk, who builds electric cars, has the ultimate dream of leading people on earth to the universe; Altman, who studies AI, really cares about not only the arrival of general artificial intelligence AGI, but also the ultimate question of how human society will operate after the arrival of AGI.
One of Altman’s visions is to provide “Universal Basic Income (UBI)” for humans in the “AI era”, that is, to allow people around the world to “share” the huge profits brought by AI.
But to send money to billions of people around the world, the first thing to solve is the identity problem.
The solution Altman found was Worldcoin, a Web3 project that aims to help people deal with the challenges posed by AI by solving “digital identity” and achieving “universal basic income (UBI)”.
Sam Altman has always cared about crypto projects.
In the early years, he was Y Combinator and launched a very crazy project in the United States – “Universal Basic Income (UBI)”. In this plan, participants can get a fixed salary without any additional conditions, so that they can freely choose their favorite careers and no longer be trapped by food and clothing.
In March 2021, Sam Altman also publicly spoke out for the encryption field, admiring the “token” mechanism, and believing that “token” can be used as a “Universal Basic Income (UBI)” to provide low-income groups with fair financial infrastructure.
A few months later, Sam Altman joined forces with Alex Blania and Max Novendstern to found the cryptocurrency project, Worldcoin.

Worldcoin is an open-source protocol backed by developers, individuals, economists and technologists around the world dedicated to expanding participation in and access to the global economy. It consists of two parts, Worldcoin Foundation and Tools for Humanity (TFH). The former is regarded as its initiator and guardian, focusing on the development of the Worldcoin community; the latter is the main body of actual technology development, and currently serves as the foundation’s consultant and World App operator.
Interestingly, the founder Sam Altman’s positioning of Worldcoin is to keep pace with the times and adjust in due course.
In its early days, Sam Altman positioned Worldcoin as a company focused on Universal Basic Income (UBI). He hopes to distribute the huge wealth generated by AI to everyone in the world in equal amounts through cryptocurrency. Specifically, it is to airdrop the “inclusive and open” cryptocurrency to the 1 billion people who accept “iris scanning”.
However, Worldcoin’s progress has not been smooth and has been forced to cease operations in at least seven countries due to negative press coverage and a plunge in cryptocurrency prices. However, it happened that ChatGPT and AI exploded at this time, which provided a new target for Worldcoin.
Therefore, in March of this year, Altman repackaged Worldcoin into a project focused on “identity proof”, emphasizing the “inherent value”, “equal rights”, “privacy protection” and “open cooperation” of being a “human” in the AI ​​​​era.
In this regard, Altman explained, “ Due to the development of AI, the demand for systems that provide proof of personality, and the need for new experiments in wealth redistribution and global governance systems is growing.” Worldcoin also stated on its official Twitter, “The popularity of ChatGPT brings the challenge of distinguishing humans and AI in the digital world.”
Therefore, the official description of Worldcoin today is as follows:
Worldcoin is building the world’s largest identity and financial network utility, enabling ownership by all.

Our goal is to create universal access to the global economy, regardless of country or background, accelerating the transition to an economic future that benefits everyone on the planet.

In short, the current Worldcoin wants to be the fairest global digital identity and cryptocurrency system. By using cryptocurrency as an infrastructure, it realizes the concept of “inclusive finance” and makes “the global economy belong to everyone.”

This “vision” is of great significance, because there are still more than hundreds of millions of people in the world who cannot verify their identities through digital means, and they have no way to access the financial system and enjoy financial services.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that Worldcoin’s long-term goal is to create a fully “decentralized” system, but development of the project is now managed by Tools for Humanity (TFH), with plans to eventually spin off control to a non-profit foundation.
So far, more than 700,000 users from about 25 countries and regions including Chile, France and Kenya have registered Worldcoin. The company plans to fully launch the project in 2023 and hopes to quickly expand its user base.
However, when Worldcoin comes out in 2021, many critics regard it as a “dystopian nightmare”. Despite this, it has won the support of many well-known investors such as a16z, Coinbase Ventures, and Day One Ventures. $115 million was raised.
In the face of many investors, what kind of business model has Worldcoin formulated?
Worldcoin’s approach is exactly the same as OpenAI, which disclosed in a statement that the company will transform into a non-profit organization. Moreover, transactions on the WorldAPP wallet are currently free. Not only is it free, but participating in the background test in the wallet can also receive a cryptocurrency reward equivalent to $9. You must know that all interactions on the chain require gas fees, and WorldAPP’s free means that they not only bear the handling fees, but also take the money as “rebate subsidies”.
It is estimated that when Worldcoin reaches a certain scale, it will inevitably charge fees. For example, after becoming an application entry-level platform, it can collect taxes; another example is to provide identity verification services for third parties. This has been implemented since March this year. This may become a new profit model for Worldcoin.
It is also worth mentioning that Worldcoin’s ambitions in Web3 are not limited to the cryptocurrency field. It is also actively planning applications in social networking, voting, financial services, customer incentives, markets, currency distribution and other fields.

02
How “Web3” can save “AI”

So, how does Altman plan to use Worldcoin to realize the wonderful vision of making “the global economy belong to everyone”?
Altman divided Worldcoin into three tasks, namely a privacy-protecting identity protocol (World ID), a global token (Worldcoin) that will be distributed to 1 billion people around the world for free, and a wallet system (WorldAPP) that supports payments, purchases, and transfers using Worldcoin tokens, digital assets, and traditional currencies around the world.

World ID

First of all, World ID is the premise for users to participate in the “global economy”, which is the underlying identity protocol of the “global digital identity” authentication system that Worldcoin is trying to build. It is the identity certificate for users to receive Worldcoin, so it is necessary to ensure “one person, one certificate” in order to truly achieve a fair distribution of wealth.
To this end, Worldcoin uses the biometric device Orb to scan the user’s iris to provide the user with a unique verifiable digital identity – World ID. As one of the biological characteristics of the human body, the iris is extremely unique and stable and cannot be copied or imitated.

At the same time, World ID adopts the “Proof of Personhood (PoP)” mechanism, which is a complex combination of custom hardware, machine learning (machine learning) technology, cryptography and blockchain technology. Through this credential, the World ID protocol enables everyone to prove their humanity online without relying on third-party institutions.
This innovative authentication method utilizes “Zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP)” to maximize user privacy and achieve identity security through the World ID managed by the user himself.
In short, World ID, as an open and permissionless identity protocol, has broad application prospects. It can not only serve as a safe and reliable “global digital passport”, but also prove a person’s identity while protecting privacy.
This is critical to address the current proliferation of fake accounts brought about by AI. For example, in social media, it can reduce the appearance of AI fake accounts and malicious comments, and the spread of AI-generated misinformation, and even promote democratic governance on the Internet. In addition, AI accounts can be prevented from participating in some work to ensure that only real humans participate, thereby protecting the employment rights and interests of humans.
In this regard, Alex Blania, CEO of WorldCoin, said, “In this AI on the Internet, what is humans and what is not human, the world ID is very important in the world of new problems. This is also an example of the overlap of the cryptocurrency and the AI ​​industry.” Privacy. In addition, potential applications also include handling false personal information on social media, allocating basic income (UBI), and digital democracy authorized for new forms. ”

Worldcoin

As mentioned above, after completing the World ID certification, users will receive Worldcoin tokens to obtain their own universal basic income (UBI), and then use this token to purchase daily necessities on the World App.
Considering that in the future, 65% of human jobs will be replaced by AI, that is to say, in the near future, the population without income will account for more than 65% of the world’s total. The global distribution of worldcoin can ensure that every user can obtain a fair and stable basic income, which can effectively alleviate the job loss caused by AI and provide people with a certain degree of economic security.
According to the plan, Worldcoin is expected to issue 10 billion WLD tokens before the end of June, of which 2 billion will be used to fund the developers and investors of the Worldcoin protocol for a long time, and the remaining 8 billion will be distributed to all users around the world for free.

In terms of token mechanism, Worldcoin adopts a “deflation reward model” and uses task incentives to increase activity. This means that the collection of WLD tokens is not a one-time distribution, but a way of doing tasks. In the early stage, one token is collected per week. Later, the time interval for token collection will be increased over time, perhaps one token per month, which is conducive to maintaining user activity.
Judging from the data, it has also achieved good results. At present, the number of registered users is close to 2 million. According to Altman’s vision, billions of people will use World ID to receive Universal Basic Income (UBI) in the future.

World App

The last is the World App, which is a native wallet specially developed for Worldcoin and also the carrier of WorldID, which means that it is both an “encrypted wallet” and an “ID card” in the AI ​​era.
The World App is built on Polygon, and anyone can download and use it at any time. Its purpose is to enable billions of people around the world to obtain “decentralized” identity and finance to participate in the “global economy”.
The World App debuted on May 8, 2023, and after extensive development and learning from over 1.5 million beta users, the first phase of the World App is now rolling out globally. With the establishment of the non-profit Worldcoin Foundation, World App is in the process of “decentralization” in terms of governance, operations and appropriation activities.
Tools for Humanity (TFH), the team behind the World App, said in a statement to The Chainsaw, “Now available in over 100 countries, with nearly 2 million users and 600,000 monthly active users, the World App has become the most popular way to get exposure to cryptocurrencies today.”

They are excited about the important role that World App plays in realizing the popularization of “decentralized” technology, and believe that the release of this achievement will eventually promote the popularization of privacy-protected identity certificates and Internet-native financial services, and allow digital currency to occupy a place in global fair distribution and public governance.
To sum up, the vision of Worldcoin is very forward-looking and ambitious. The global identity (World ID), global token (Worldcoin), and wallet system (WorldAPP) that it plans to establish all have a wide range of practical application values, which can not only help meet the “challenges” brought by AI, but also bring new “opportunities” for the development of the digital economy.

03
“Risks” and “Challenges”

Although there are influential founders behind Worldcoin, its advanced concepts still face many doubts and challenges. Specifically, the problems faced by Worldcoin mainly include the following aspects:

Technology and Privacy Risks

The first to bear the brunt is Worldcoin’s “iris scanning” technical solution. It has not been widely verified and applied, so many people are questioning the reliability and stability of this biometric technology, especially its ability to protect privacy. Edward Snowden, the protagonist of the “Prism Gate” incident in the United States, wrote on Twitter: “The human body is not a punching machine.” Expressing his resistance to the “iris scanning” of the human body.
In this regard, although the Worldcoin team claims that the “Iris Code (IrisCode)” is the only information that leaves the iris scanning device Orb, the user’s original biological information will be destroyed immediately, and the identity on the chain is fully encrypted, secure and untraceable, but this does not completely eliminate people’s concerns about privacy issues. Even privacy and surveillance experts have warned that “collecting biometric data, even if not storing it, is still a risky business.”
In addition, the popularity of the iris scanning device Orb is also an important issue. Worldcoin needed to ensure that the device would have broad coverage and be easily accessible to users around the world. In this regard, Worldcoin has taken some measures, such as providing coupons and loan incentives, to promote user registration and popularization of equipment, but the actual effect is very little.

Legal and Regulatory Risk

At present, Worldcoinn has not been widely recognized by law, so its compliance is also facing certain difficulties and challenges.
For example, some countries and regions, such as the United States, have restrictions and controls on World ID and Worldcoin, which prevents Worldcoin from entering these countries. Worldcoin is currently licensed in only 24 countries, of which 14 are developing countries and 8 are located in Africa.
However, residents in impoverished areas generally lack legal protection and the cost of data collection is the lowest. Collecting user data in such places has been accused by many media of being “a form of crypto-colonialism in disguise.”
Ari Paul, founder of Block Tower Capital, an encryption investment agency, also pointed out that “Worldcoin’s core business model is to steal data from the world’s poorest people, test data in a way that exploits the poor, and monetize it.
In addition, supervision is a risk that Worldcoin cannot avoid. After all, currency is the power of a sovereign state. Libra, a stablecoin project that once carried the vision of “world currency”, even if there is a Facebook platform behind it, it will not escape the fate of “abortion” in the end.

Competition and Funding Risk

The digital currency market is highly competitive, and Worldcoin needs to face challenges from other competitors. Mature cryptocurrency projects, such as plnetwork, are hard to shake, and emerging competitors are constantly launching more attractive products and services, which will affect Worldcoin’s market share and user base. In addition, Worldcoin has to face capital risk due to the highly volatile nature of cryptocurrency prices.
As an innovative cryptocurrency project, Worldcoin combines AI, blockchain technology, and the concept of basic income (UBI) to provide sustainable and fair income solutions for everyone around the world.
It is Sam Altman’s vision of the future world of general artificial intelligence (AGI). As he mentioned earlier, “I hope that the advantages, access and governance of AGI can be widely and fairly shared.” This has also been recognized by the “pro-son” ChatGPT, which stated that “AI and Web3 can promote each other and jointly support more innovation.”
Although Worldcoin will still face many doubts and challenges in the short term, there is no doubt that it is one of the most promising encryption applications so far.
“As AI flourishes, the need for systems that provide proof of personality, as well as systems for wealth redistribution and global governance is growing.”
Sam Altman is so sure about the future of Worldcoin.

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