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Crypto-biometrics firm with altruistic plan stumbles

Crypto-biometrics firm with altruistic plan stumbles
 

Ambitious plans are in the DNA of technology, and few visions have been more amazing than scanning an iris of every human being with eyes. And then giving everyone a basic income linked to the biometrics.

Almost every last proposed disruption has had problems with momentum. (Apple’s Steve Jobs said he wanted to change the world, for example, but ultimately only changed the pace of planned obsolescence.)

Altruistic cryptocurrency/biometrics unicorn Worldcoin has not abandoned its idea or ideals, but the startup has had to, as Bloomberg put it, “redraw its launch plans.”

It could do worse than to create a transparent biometrics operation, something opponents of the company say is lacking.

At the moment, infrastructure holes are complicating Worldcoin’s dream.

Its founders have so far collected iris scans from maybe 500,000 people in about 20 countries, according to Bloomberg. Scans are processed using one of the company’s $3,000 silvery basketball-sized devices.

The boggling biometric project is only a supporting player in the Worldcoin’s dream. Scans would verify a person’s identity, allowing them to collect a universal basic annual income.

A new Worldcoin cryptocurrency would be the basis of that income. Everyone on Earth would receive a share of the crypto kitty. They could use their shares to raise their living standards, freeing them theoretically to pursue their own capital-generating ideas.

Technical problems have forced the company to require a mobile phone in order to participate, but not everyone on the planet has a safe toilet much less a smartphone.

Worldcoin was outed from stealth mode last summer. Since last June, the startup’s headcount has grown tenfold, to 100 employees. The company is also hiring for dozens of positions, including software engineers for its biometric orb, and an iris recognition specialist.

Its latest launch schedule could stretch to the end of this year, according to Bloomberg.

It was founded in 2019 by three entrepreneurs: Sam Altman, the one-time leader of the iconic incubator Y Combinator; Alexander Blania, who has studied theoretical physics at Caltech; and investment-firm veteran Max Novendstern.

They have raised $25 million in seed and venture funding, according to Crunchbase. Investors include VC firm Andreessen Horowitz and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

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