In a bold new venture into the cryptocurrency realm, OpenAI Chief Executive Sam Altman has raised $115 million in a Series C funding round for his co-founded project, Worldcoin. Blockchain Capital led the funding round with participation from other investors including a16z crypto, Bain Capital Crypto, and Distributed Global.

Worldcoin, born from Altman’s vision of a future disrupted by AI and automation, proposes a unique solution. The project uses a device to scan the irises of individuals to verify their identity and in return, rewards them with a crypto token. The eventual aim is that these tokens might one day replace traditional incomes, serving as a form of universal basic income.

While the idea is ambitious, it has faced criticism, particularly around privacy concerns. The use of iris scanning technology for identity verification has been met with backlash, with critics like former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden warning against the cataloging of eyeballs. Despite this, the project continues to move forward with the belief that iris scans are the only effective way to prove someone is a unique person.

Worldcoin began in 2019, with Altman recruiting fintech entrepreneur Max Novendstern and physics Ph.D. student Alex Blania as founding members. The project is currently managed by Tools for Humanity, with plans to eventually spin out control to a nonprofit foundation. This plan for decentralization aligns with the ethos of the cryptocurrency world, as it strives to distribute power away from centralized entities.

In the face of a turbulent crypto market and allegations of exploitation in its rollout in developing markets, Worldcoin has sought to repurpose itself. It launched a new feature called World ID, a protocol allowing other platforms to use Worldcoin’s “proof of personhood” system as a digital credentialing system. This was followed by the launch of the World App, a wallet that includes the World ID for users, along with the ability to hold Worldcoin tokens and other cryptocurrencies.

Yet, the main challenge for Worldcoin lies in its adoption. Convincing billions of people to willingly submit to an iris scan presents a formidable task, and privacy concerns remain a significant hurdle. As of now, fewer than 2 million people have signed up.

Moreover, regulatory challenges add to Worldcoin’s plate, with the decision not to launch its token in the U.S. due to stalled crypto legislation. The app is also not available in other markets that have banned crypto, such as China.

The digital asset space, which experienced several collapses in 2022, is looking to regain popularity. As Altman and OpenAI have increasingly come into the spotlight with growing interest in AI, Worldcoin’s success could signal a turning point for the world of crypto. This project represents a daring effort to marry the world of AI and cryptocurrency, promising a future where the financial benefits of AI are available to all, yet safeguarded against the potential risks of a world increasingly populated by indistinguishable AI bots



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