Hudson Jameson, a former core developer of the Ethereum blockchain, has criticized the Worldcoin project, a cryptocurrency project founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. In a tweet chain, Jameson has called the project “unrealistic and scary” and has raised concerns about its privacy implications.
Worldcoin is an open-source protocol that aims to create a universal digital identity and financial network as a public utility. According to its website, Worldcoin's vision is to “create universal access to the global economy regardless of country or background, accelerating the transition to an economic future that welcomes and benefits every person on the planet.”
To achieve this vision, Worldcoin plans to distribute its tokens to every person on the planet for free, just for being a unique individual. The distribution process will be done through a device called the Worldcoin Orb, which is a spherical scanner that can capture a person's iris pattern and verify their identity. The iris scan will be used to create a World ID, which is a digital identity that proves that a person is real and unique while fully protecting their privacy. The World ID will then be linked to a Worldcoin wallet, which will allow the person to receive their share of Worldcoin tokens and use them for payments, purchases and transfers globally.
Worldcoin claims that its distribution method will ensure fairness, inclusivity and accessibility for everyone, regardless of their location, income or status. The project also claims that its token will have utility and governance value, as it will enable users to access various services and platforms on the Worldcoin network, as well as participate in the future development and direction of the protocol.
Beyond the tech. and orb, WorldCoin's team's plans are unrealistic and scary. I am less worried about the cutting edge zk tech. being built, but am skeptical about the rollout since I've heard some team members talk about onboarding 10s of millions of people post-launch by 2025.
— Hudson Jameson (@hudsonjameson) May 15, 2023
“Scary, Creepy, and Collecting Personal Data”
Jameson wrote that the Orb is “a creepy way to collect people's biometric data.” He said that the Orb is “essentially a retinal scanner” and that it is “a very personal piece of data.” He also said that the Orb could be used to track people's movements and to identify them without their consent.
Jameson has also said that the project's plans to create a global currency are unrealistic. He said that the project is “trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist.” He said that there is no need for a new global currency and that the existing cryptocurrencies are “more than capable” of meeting the needs of the global economy.
Finally, Jameson has said that the project's privacy implications are “scary.” He said that the project is “collecting a lot of personal data” and that it is “not clear what they are going to do with it.” He also said that the project could be used to track people's movements and to identify them without their consent.
Jameson's criticisms have been echoed by other privacy advocates. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has said that the Worldcoin project is “a privacy nightmare” and that it “should be avoided at all costs.” The EFF has also said that the project is “a clear example of how biometric data can be used to track and control people.”
The Sam Altman and OpenAI Connection
Sam Altman is the co-founder of OpenAI (along with Elon Musk) and current CEO of the AI research firm. He has become one of the most powerful tech leaders in the last few months as ChatGPT became the most mainstream AI chatbot. Altman has also nurtured a deep partnership with Microsoft following billions of dollars in investments from the Redmond company.
While OpenAI and Microsoft have grown their AI products such as GPT-4, ChatGPT, Bing Chat, Microsoft 365 Copilot, and GitHub Copilot. However, the critics of Altman claim that OpenAI has been too quick to develop its generative AI products without waiting for proper regulations. Elon Musk, Alman's former partner at OpenAI, is one such critic, saying the way the company is now is not what he intended.
Musk also joined other leaders in tech in creating the Initiative for Life project, which calls on AI developers to cease development of models more powerful than GPT-4 for at least six months. It is worth noting Altman has recently claimed GPT-5 is not being developed by OpenAI. This week, Altman spoke a congressional hearing in the United States and admitted there need to be clear and strict regulations in place for the development of AI.
He suggested a need to manage the fast-developing systems that could potentially transform the economy fundamentally. “I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong. And we want to be vocal about that”, Altman said. “We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening”.