Details are slowly emerging about a new startup, Worldcoin, that aims to launch a new cryptocurrency that it would distribute to people in exchange for their eye scans. The futuristic-sounding idea has attracted major supporters in Silicon Valley, including Y Combinator president Sam Altman, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and the venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Day One Ventures.
But while information is still coming to light about Worldcoin, cryptography and privacy experts are already poking holes in its main premise.
Bloomberg uncovered the nascent startup’s plans, which seem to involve launching a cryptocurrency that everyone in the world could have a share in. The idea appears to be inspired by the concept of universal basic income, or direct, no-strings-attached payments to people, usually distributed by the government. And the startup wants to deliver this currency by building orb-shaped devices that convert scans of peoples’ eyes into unique numerical identifiers in order to make sure a person is a legitimate recipient of the payment and isn’t trying to sign up more than once. An online job posting for Worldcoin cited by Bloomberg noted the startup hoped to build “a dedicated hardware device ensuring both humanness and uniqueness of everybody signing up, while maintaining their privacy and the overall transparency of a permissionless blockchain.”
The company is already testing a prototype of its eye-scanning device in several cities (volunteers are being paid primarily in bitcoin for now) and has at least $25 million in