OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, the creator of AI chatbot ChatGPT, announced the launch of Worldcoin in 20 countries yesterday, an ambitious digital currency and user-identification network. The culmination of a three-year project, it aims to reliably distinguish humans from bots online while ensuring user privacy, among other broader social equity goals (see background).
The coin—which is not yet available in the US due to regulatory issues—is tied to a novel proof-of-personhood system called WorldID, a mechanism that creates digital proof of a user's unique humanity. The system works by having users scan their eyeballs with the company's so-called "Orb," a bowling ball-sized chrome scanner—only available in select locations—which generates and stores a unique digital fingerprint (see explainer). A 2021 report outlines various ethical issues with the project's early stages scanning thousands of beta users in developing countries.
To incentivize adoption, the company is offering weekly deposits of one Worldcoin to users, with one coin valued at just over $2 as of this writing.