OPINION: Sam Altman’s Worldcoin Makes Audacious Promises. Will It Be Able To Deliver?

OPINION: Sam Altman’s Worldcoin Makes Audacious Promises. Will It Be Able To Deliver?

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Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, shared a video showing long lines of people waiting to have their irises scanned on July 26. The video went viral on social media, with many expressing concerns about how the gullible masses would sell their identities for a few crypto coins. However, amidst the brouhaha, there’s no denying that few projects have captured public attention quite like Worldcoin.

Worldcoin is an ambitious crypto initiative spearheaded by Altman. At its core, the project aims to build a more inclusive financial system through the widespread distribution of a native cryptocurrency. The mission is to empower every individual on the planet with the ability to be a part-owner of the digital economy, transcending barriers of socio-economic status and geographical location.

What’s Unique About Worldcoin?

This digital inclusion comes via a unique distribution method: the Worldcoin Orb. This silver orb-shaped device uses advanced iris recognition technology to uniquely verify individuals. The idea has sparked an intense debate over privacy. The Worldcoin team maintains that this data is both hashed and encrypted to ensure users’ privacy, but concerns linger, especially in a world experiencing an increasing number of data breaches.

Worldcoin’s audacity is its strength. The vision of inclusive crypto-distribution opens up the possibility of digital assets for billions of people who would otherwise remain marginalised. If successful, Worldcoin could represent a significant step towards an inclusive global financial system. Underpinning Worldcoin is blockchain technology, which provides the inherent benefits of transparency, security, and decentralisation. 

The success of Worldcoin hinges on several factors. Acceptance of their distribution mechanism, iris-scan-based biometric identification, is crucial. Ensuring the utility of Worldcoin beyond being an asset to hold is also significant. On paper, this can be achieved by fostering a healthy ecosystem of services and merchants that accept Worldcoin. 

Are There Any Pitfalls To Be Wary About?

The Worldcoin project is not without its naysayers. There is a debate raging around Worldcoin’s tokenomics. According to Coindesk, WorldCoin changed its allocation of tokens for insiders, raising the percentage from 20 per cent to 25 per cent, which has added to the growing concern. Despite a double-digit gain after its listing on major crypto exchanges, questions arose regarding the distribution of its total supply, with only 1.1 per cent currently in circulation. The remaining supply is scheduled for gradual release between July 2024 and July 2025. This scheduling, along with the trading volume of Worldcoin surpassing its market cap, has led to suspicions of wash trading or fake volume.  

The dystopian overtones of iris scanning and the potential exploitation of people in developing nations to increase user numbers are additional problems. Furthermore, the current verification process for real users seems to be lax, leading to the emergence of a black market for accounts, with prices as low as $1 per account on platforms like Telegram. 

ALSO READ: OpenAI’s Crypto Project Worldcoin To Face UK Data Regulator Probe

The project has come under scrutiny for its privacy and security practices, particularly those related to the use of iris scans. Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder and a well-known figure in the crypto space, has written a comprehensive blog post outlining the concerns associated with biometric data collection, further adding to the skepticism around WorldCoin’s practices.

Will Worldcoin Catch On?

At the end of the day, perceptions of WorldCoin will be based on its token’s performance. A rising token price signifies a good project, while a declining price indicates a dystopian nightmare and a potentially shortsighted approach to evaluating the project’s actual impact and ethical implications.

Ultimately, while Worldcoin’s vision is revolutionary and promising, it is clear that a careful balance needs to be struck. It will have to navigate the troubled waters of ethical considerations, regulatory and security risks, privacy concerns, and technical challenges to truly succeed in reshaping the financial landscape. Only time will tell if it can rise above these challenges and live up to its audacious promises.

(The author is the Vice President of crypto investment platform WazirX)

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal. Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions. Cryptocurrency is not a legal tender and is subject to market risks. Readers are advised to seek expert advice and read offer document(s) along with related important literature on the subject carefully before making any kind of investment whatsoever. Cryptocurrency market predictions are speculative and any investment made shall be at the sole cost and risk of the readers.

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