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Sam Altman launched Worldcoin on July 24, triggering a multitude of responses across the cryptocurrency sphere and Silicon Valley.
Despite differing views, the project maintains its objective to address online identity authentication and income inequality, as well as the concept of proof-of-personhood and the system’s potential implications on digital identity.
Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, has shared an extensive essay on Twitter, commenting on the recent launch of Worldcoin’s ecosystem token.
What do I think about biometric proof of personhood?https://t.co/yozo1buW24
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) July 24, 2023
Outlined the premise of Worldcoin and similar initiatives such as Proof of Humanity, BrightID, Idenam and Circles, which are bracing for a new era, Buterin explained that distinguishing between humans and AI-powered bots may become challenging. He asserted the necessity of digital “proof of personhood” in solving issues related to spam and concentration of power:
“In other words, if you’re a human, you can put one key on the list, but you can’t put two keys on the list, and if you’re a bot you can’t put any keys on the list.”
Furthermore, Buterin addressed four critical challenges such systems face: privacy, accessibility, centralization within the Worldcoin Foundation and security. While some can be solved with new technological advancements, “others seem to be fundamental limitations.”
His perspective was endorsed by Steve Dakh, a developer working with Ethereum Attestation Service (EAS), who highlighted the potential complementarity of systems like Worldcoin with EAS.
Meanwhile, others have been calling Worldcoin “dystopian” since its initial launch in 2021.
tying ID to biometrics seems to make sense to prevent sybil attacking a system on first glance
but biometrics as the basis for security is actually *terrible* because the keys can’t be rotated once compromise or deanonymized
you can’t reset your iris, fingerprint, or DNA
— Alex Thorn (@intangiblecoins) July 23, 2023
Buterin emphasized that an “ideal form of proof of personhood” has yet to be found. Potential solutions emerging could come from a blend of various approaches, which stress the need for community accountability, third-party audits and checks:
“Rather, I would favor a moderate approach, where we vigorously advocate for proof-of-personhood solutions to have strong privacy, potentially if desired even include a “N accounts for $N²” mechanism at protocol layer, and create something that has privacy-friendly values andhas a chance of getting accepted by the outside world.”
There is an importance of digital human verification in decentralized governance so that such systems guard against domination by wealthy actors or antagonistic governments. He expressed that projects like Worldcoin could help decentralize power while minimizing information disclosure:
“Many services would only be able to prevent denial-of-service attacks by setting a price for access, and sometimes a price high enough to keep out attackers is also too high for many lower-income legitimate users.”
Despite the present concerns, Buterin recognized there is no current “ideal” form of proof of personhood. He sees the potential for a fusion of different approaches to the issue. Community accountability, audits and checks are central to this process, Buterin explained. However:
“Not having any proof-of-personhood at all has its risks too: a world with no proof-of-personhood seems more likely to be a world dominated by centralized identity solutions, money, small closed communities, or some combination of all three.”
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