Vitalik Buterin Touches On Issues With Sam Altman’s Worldcoin

    Published on:

    • Worldcoin uses biometric data to separate humans from bots.
    • Sam Altman released its beta version on July 24, 2023.

    In a new blog post, Etheruem co-founder Vitalik Buterin addresses issues in an identity-focused crypto project Worldcoin. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman released its beta version yesterday. He expresses his belief that it can help distinguish humans and artificial intelligence (AI) bots via iris scans via tools namely Orbs. Data suggest that bots pull almost half the traffic on the internet.

    It Will Likely Take Years To Find a Working Formula

    Ethereum co-founder addressed privacy, accessibility, security and centralization as major issues surrounding Worldcoin. It uses proof-of-personhood, a system to identify a real human using distinct keys. Buterin says the mechanism solves problems including anti-spam and anti-concentration of power. It does so by avoiding reliance on central powers and revealing as low information as possible.

    Worldcoin links each action of a person to real-world identity, leading to a potential privacy leak. Vitalik Buterin raises concerns of this data being exceptionally large. However, he also mentions it can be solved using zero knowledge proof technology. A user can simply create ZK-SNARK instead of using a private key to prove the key’s ownership.

    Buterin highlights that a public registry full of biometric scans would be more vulnerable to leaks. Nonetheless, the leak could be less severe in the case of Worldcoin. The company uses a particular hash associated with personal identity through a machine learned algorithm.

    Accessibility issues could arise amidst scarcity in the number of Orbs. There are not enough of them across the globe to cover all the people living on the planet. Although, the company is working to scale their operations. Ethereum co-founder believes systems like proof of humanity are best-performing from an accessibility vantage point.

    Proof of humanity is a blockchain-based verification process where users can submit authentic profiles to distinguish themselves from internet bots. Additionally, they can vouch for other people to be authentic and raise concerns regarding profiles on the internet acting as bots.

    From an organizational perspective, Vitalik listed three risks associated with centralization. Governance, specialized systems and proprietary algorithms. A platform using virtual currencies from other platforms for incentives could give rise to governance risks. As Worldcoin uses specialized hardware, it could be a bigger risk for them than proof of humanity. A single system doing all the verification may be of additional risk.

    Vitalik Buterin cites security issues in Worldcoin including fake ID creation and selling them, phone hacking and more. AI is already advanced enough to easily create a three dimensional replica of a human (or a part of the human). Essentially, a life-like replica could be used to deceive an Orb. Furthermore, a phone hack could provide user’s Worldcoin wallet access to malicious actors. Crypto hacks have risen in the past few years with a $3.8 Billion loss reported in 2022 according to data analysis firm Chainalysis.

    “The problem of making a proof-of-personhood system that is effective and reliable, especially in the hands of people distant from the existing crypto community, seems quite challenging. I definitely do not envy the people attempting the task, and it will likely take years to find a formula that works,” writes Vitalik Buterin in the blog.


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    Anurag Batham
    Anurag Batham is a journalist and research analyst at CryptoSunday. He has covered blockchain, crypto, metaverse and more since 2021 and holds a keen interest in global economy and climate change with a passion to deliver useful information to the readers.