The internet is powerful because of large networks. Email, social apps, and marketplaces are examples of such networks. The more participants they have, the more powerful they become. For the first time, Web3 and cryptocurrencies make it possible to distribute ownership and control of those networks to their users, rather than a single entity.
If a cryptocurrency were adopted at scale, it would vastly increase access to the internet economy and make applications possible that are now unimaginable. Unfortunately, less than three percent of the world's population currently participates in cryptocurrency networks.
To rapidly get its new currency into the hands of as many people as possible, Worldcoin will allow everyone to claim a share of it for free. For this to happen, we first had to solve one major challenge: ensuring that every person on Earth can prove that they are indeed human (not a bot), and that they have not claimed their free share of Worldcoin already. This challenge is the longstanding problem of proving "unique-humanness" without intruding on privacy: how can you prove you are you, without having to tell us anything about yourself?
To address it, we built a new device called the Orb. It solves the problem through biometrics: the Orb captures an image of a person’s eyes, which is converted into a short numeric code, making it possible to check whether the person has signed up already. If not, they receive their free share of Worldcoin. The original image will not need to be stored or uploaded. In contrast to many centralized services we use today, no other personal information is required. Through modern cryptography, this numeric code is also not linked to the user’s wallet or transactions, further preserving user privacy.
We are only a few months away from a global launch and are currently running field tests in many locations around the world. In these field tests, some people are waiting hours to receive their free share of Worldcoin, and local entrepreneurs are building whole businesses around the Orb. Currently, a single device can onboard, on average, around seven hundred new people per week. Eventually, we plan to produce more than fifty thousand devices per year. It is still early, but the results of these field tests make us optimistic that Worldcoin will soon connect the first billion users in one commonly owned crypto network.
Nothing like this has ever been done before and the outcome is uncertain. But we are obsessed with the idea that revolutionary new technologies like blockchain and cryptography can let us do something collectively that even governments have not been able to: increase individual empowerment and equality of opportunity on a global scale.
Technological progress will lead to unprecedented economic growth. It will be increasingly important to make this prosperity accessible to all of us. The launch of Worldcoin is only the first step on the long road towards this goal, and we hope to have more to announce soon.
If this sounds exciting, please consider joining us.
Alex Blania, Sam Altman, and the Worldcoin team