July 24 (Reuters) – Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency project founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, launched on Monday.
The project’s key offering is its World ID, which the company describes as a “digital passport” to prove the holder is a real human, not an AI bot. To get a WorldID, a customer signs up for an iris scan in person using the WorldCoin ‘Orb’, a silver ball the size of a bowling ball. Once the iris scan of the orb verifies that the person is a real person, it creates a global identity.
The company behind WorldCoin is San Francisco and Berlin-based Tools Mankind.
The project has had 2 million users since its beta period, and with Monday’s launch, Worldcoin is expanding its “orbing” operations to 35 cities in 20 countries. As an incentive, registrants in certain countries will receive Worldcoin’s cryptocurrency token WLD.
The price of WLD rose in early trading on Monday. On Binance, the world’s largest exchange, it hit a high of $5.29 and saw a trading volume of $25.1 million, up from an opening price of $0.15 at $2.49 at 1000 GMT, according to Binance’s website.
Blockchains can store the world’s IDs in a way that protects privacy and cannot be controlled or blocked by any single entity, co-founder Alex Plania told Reuters.
The project says global IDs are essential in the age of generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT, which produce remarkably human-like language. World IDs can be used to tell the difference between real people and AI bots online.
Altman told Reuters WorldCoin will help address how the economy will be reshaped by AI.
“People will be overpowered by AI, which will have massive economic implications,” he said.
An example Altman likes is Universal Basic Income, or UBI, a social welfare program run by governments that typically entitles every individual to pay. Because AI”People will do more and more of what they do now.” Altman believes UBI will help fight income inequality. This can be used to reduce fraud when using UPI, as only real people can hold World IDs.
Altman said he thought a world with UBI was “far in the future,” and he didn’t have a clear idea of which company would be able to spend the money, but WorldCoin is laying the groundwork for that to become a reality.
“We think we need to start testing things so we can figure out what to do,” he said.
Reporting by Anna Tong in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Jubi Babu and Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Kenneth Li, Sri Navaratnam and Philippa Fletcher
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Anna Dong is a reporter for Reuters based in San Francisco, where she reports on the technology industry. He joined Reuters in 2023 after working as a data editor at the San Francisco Standard. Dong previously worked as a product manager at tech startups, worked on user insights at Google and helped run the call center. Dong graduated from Harvard University. Contact: 4152373211