Ethereum (ETH) creator Vitalik Buterin is evaluating Worldcoin (WLD), a recently launched crypto project by OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT.
Worldcoin claims to be a decentralized database that verifies users’ identities by scanning their irises using a hardware “Orb”.
According to Worldcoin, it is plans in the manufacture of 1500 orbs and their deployment in 35 different cities to satisfy the “global demand for World ID”.
Hours after its official launch, the WLD token already has a fully diluted valuation (FDV) of $22.5 billion and is up 33% since it went live.
Potentially the most high-profile and hyped crypto project of 2023, Worldcoin has drawn criticism over potential privacy risks, including from Ethereum’s Buterin, who wrote a lengthy post about the new altcoin earlier today.
According to Buterin, he sees four main risks to Worlcoin that are the most obvious, the first of which is privacy.
“The registry of iris scans can reveal information. At the very least, if someone else scans her iris, they can check it against the database to determine whether or not she has a world ID. Potentially, iris scans could reveal more information.”
The second risk, according to the billionaire, is accessibility, since world IDs likely won’t be reliably accessible to most people unless there are an astronomical number of orbs across the planet. The last two points are centralization and security risks, including the possibility of some sort of backdoor being added to the system for the Worldcoin Foundation to use for their own benefit.
“Centralization. The Orb is a hardware device and we have no way of verifying that it was built correctly and does not have backdoors. Therefore, even if the software layer is seamless and fully decentralized, the Worldcoin Foundation still has the ability to insert a backdoor into the system, allowing it to arbitrarily create many false human identities.
Security. Users’ phones could be hacked, users could be forced to scan their irises while displaying a public key belonging to someone else, and there is the possibility of 3D printing “fake people” who can pass the iris scan and obtain worldwide IDs.
Buterin says that there are other security threats to the Worldcoin system, which may not be specific to Worldcoin but to all “personality test” projects. He mentions the possibility of people using fake 3D personas to scan IDs, selling IDs, phone hacking that allows bad actors to control one’s ID, or governments forcing their citizens to use the system.
“These are pretty serious weaknesses. Some have already been addressed in existing protocols, others may be addressed with future enhancements, and others appear to be fundamental limitations.”
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