Cryptocurrencies, like almost every other sector, have been testing the stormy waters of AI. This embryonic technology should, as many predict, change the way developers design and verify apps, the way traders build their wallets and the way users interact with it all. Worldcoin, one of the most important AI initiatives in crypto, has a link to Altman. 

It is a universal digital identification protocol, being developed by Tools for Humanity, a company co-founded by Mr. Altman. In simple terms, Worldcoin's proposal revolves around the Orb, a device designed to scan people's retinas to verify their identity online. At the same time, the company proposes to circulate Worldcoin tokens in the form of a "universal basic income" (UBI), rewarding those who volunteer for the first eye-scanning tests.

When it was announced in 2019, the world was shaken by the dystopian nature of the project. Not only is it founded by a man many believe could become the world's first trillionaire (who is building a bunker on an island), but the World ID system works by scanning people's irises with a metal sphere called an Orb. It's straight out of a sci-fi movie.

Follow Worldcoin on Twitter or download World App for the most up to date information on Orb locations & booking information.

- Worldcoin (@worldcoin) July 24, 2023


Since September 15, the WLD token has climbed 145%.

WLD/USD token

In fact, when Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI in January, it was also investing in Altman. In many ways, Worldcoin speculators are also betting on the AI pioneer. Although OpenAI and Worldcoin are completely separate entities, there are close parallels between the two outside of Altman's point of mutual connection (there's no reason to think Microsoft will have any relationship with Worldcoin).

It's possible that people who love Worldcoin are buying into the idea that this project is a precautionary measure in case AIs develop the ability to create their own virtual identities, real or fake. Beyond appearances, the project itself is not lacking in interest. Worldcoin's developers are working on zero-knowledge (ZK) cryptography solutions for more secure biometric eye scanning. But the interest in Orb, and more broadly in Worldcoin, seems to end here.

The privacy issues raised by the Kenyan government,the integration issues raised by the MIT Technology Review, and the problems associated with the system's proprietary technology, are of great concern.

Worldcoin, like any other startup, has the potential to be a major financial failure. However, it is essential to distinguish between the real value of the company and the public perception of it. The discourse surrounding Worldcoin is often tinged with prejudice rather than objective assessment.

Altman, who was best known for his stint as head of startup incubator Y Combinator at the time of Worldcoin's announcement, saw his reputation explode after becoming the face of OpenAI. Some consider Mr. Altman a "generational talent", one of Silicon Valley's biggest fundraisers.

According to Bloomberg, Altman has been in talks to set up a chip foundry to compete with NVIDIA, with the backing of controversial investors in the Middle East and China. Finally, he is the main shareholder in Humane AI, a company building a mobile AI "pin" without a phone. In other words, Altman's association with Worldcoin is a matter of interest, as it is in many other projects.

It's no secret that technology is going through a period of transition. The promises of AI now seem revolutionary, whereas this time last year, the technology seemed barely achievable. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and deserve close scrutiny. Some technologists see Mr. Altman as a symbol of progress. And at this point, Worldcoin could be seen as an imperfect barometer of these competing technophile and techno-skeptic currents in society. In the end, it's a safe bet that those who invest in the Worldcoin token aren't doing so for the project itself. In fact, they're investing in Sam Altman.