Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin says much more work is needed to sustain Tools for Humanity’s proof-of-personhood project made possible by the World ID protocol.
Worldcoin must address several issues, including security, privacy, and the threat of coercion by autocratic governments, before the project fully achieves its goal.
Bad Actors Can Force Mismatches Between Apps and Iris Scans
According to Buterin, Worldcoin’s unique hardware design makes it inherently difficult to assess for backdoors. Other challenges, such as keeping the software decentralized and specifying the maximum number of Orbs a single manufacturer can build, are possible but may take time to implement.
To sign up for a World ID, users must download the World app and create a public-private key pair. After this, they must travel to a location of an Orb, a device that can take pictures of their irises.
The Orb will link the hash of their iris data with a code from the app to register a World ID. After that, their app can generate zero-knowledge proof the registrant exists on the system without revealing any personal data.
However, Buterin argues that malicious parties could coerce people into linking their code with someone else’s iris. Additionally, people could voluntarily sell their cryptographic keys to someone.
In time, it is also possible that artificially-generated 3D prints of peoples’ eyes could fool the Orb hardware into creating invalid identities. Someone could independently create the same hash of a person’s eye and check whether they exist on the Worldcoin database.
There is also a possibility of black market Orbs that could harvest iris data without Worldcoin’s knowledge.
Worldcoin Project Needs Pressure to Prioritize Greater Good
Co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, the Worldcoin project disbursed the Worldcoin cryptocurrency to two million people on Monday.
Major sign-up hubs exist in the United States and Europe, with other regions set to follow.
Didn’t sign up for Worldcoin? Find out about other upcoming airdrops here.
To ensure Worldcoin cannot go rogue, Buterin says the global community must compel the project’s developers to open-source their technologies and be subject to audits. These checks and balances could ensure Worldcoin always acts for the benefit of the wider community.
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