What is Worldcoin? Eye-scanning crypto project launched by OpenAI CEO

The crypto project is focused on reinventing digital identity without compromising a person's real-world identity.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 12: Students raise their hands for a question as OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman looks on during an event at Keio University on June 12, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. Altman discussed with students at the event hosted by one of Japan's leading private universities as he expressed his intentions to open an office and broaden services in the country. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Students raise their hands for a question as OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman looks on during an event at Keio University on June 12, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan.

Tomohiro Ohsumi via Getty Images

Want to prove you're really human? Let Sam Altman scan your eyeballs.  

Worldcoin (WLD), a cryptocurrency project founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, launched today with the aim of redefining the digital identification process by offering users a World ID, which verifies that the ID's owner is a real human. 

With OpenAI working towards building 'responsible' AGI, its CEO appears to recognize the need for human privacy online, especially considering how popular AI chatbots like ChatGPT have become. As artificial intelligence technology advances, with generative AI at the forefront, fake virtual identities and bots are easier to create and operate, and distinguishing humans from AI on the internet becomes increasingly difficult. 

Also: How I used ChatGPT to write a custom JavaScript bookmarklet

World ID works like a digital passport, verifying that the person using it is a real human while keeping their real-world identity anonymous. This would maintain privacy and protect users from malicious cyber attacks on their identity.

Worldcoin's Orb

A look at Worldcoin's Orb and biometric scanner. 


Consumers that want a World ID need to do an in-person biometric screening, which entails a face and iris scan at one of Worldcoin's 'Orbs.' These Orbs are silver spheres, about the size of a soccer ball, strategically positioned in various locations worldwide and typically accessible by appointment. 

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When users download the World App, they'll be prompted to verify their identity by creating their World ID at an Orb and receive the WLD token afterward -- just for being human.

WLD trading took off with the news of the official launch of the crypto project, soaring as high as $3.58 from $1.70. Binance and other exchanges listed the cryptocurrency, and $145 million was traded this morning before the stock price tanked by 29.4%.

Also: WormGPT: What to know about ChatGPT's malicious cousin

Currently, the US has 11 Orb locations distributed among Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and San Francisco. Worldcoin is reportedly scaling up Orb sites globally, expanding to 35 cities in 20 countries, though it already has over 2 million scanned users from its beta period worldwide.

For the Worldcoin founders, this is a step towards economic equality, democratic distribution of funds, and, ultimately, Universal Basic Income (UBI). "Worldcoin is an attempt at global scale alignment, the journey will be challenging, and the outcome is uncertain," the founders explained in a letter introducing the project.

"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," the letter explained.

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