You know what the upcoming world government needs? A world coin, and your biometrics.
Sam Altman has a new startup that intends to give a special type of cryptocurrency to every person on earth. But first, it wants to scan everybody’s eyeballs.
Altman, the former head of the Silicon Valley business incubator Y Combinator, is one of three founders of the company Worldcoin. Among the many parts of its plan, Worldcoin has designed an orb-shaped device that would scan a person’s iris to construct a unique personal identifier.
The company is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital arm of Coinbase Global Inc., LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Day One Ventures. It recently raised about $25 million from investors.
Altman, 36, said in an interview that he conceived the idea in late 2019. The intention was to use cryptocurrency to spread money around equitably, inspired by the trendy economic theory known as universal basic income. Altman was the first investor in Worldcoin but said he has no role in day-to-day operations and mainly serves as an adviser to the company when needed.
“I’ve been very interested in things like universal basic income and what’s going to happen to global wealth redistribution and how we can do that better,” Altman said. “Is there a way we can use technology to do that at global scale?”
The head of the venture is Alexander Blania, 27, a former student of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology and the Max Planck Society. He co-founded Worldcoin with Altman and Max Novendstern, who previously worked at Ray Dalio’s investment firm Bridgewater Associates LP and at money-transfer startup Wave.
Altman and Blania agreed to discuss their project, which hasn’t been previously reported, after Bloomberg uncovered details of it and inquired. Worldcoin is still preparing for a formal unveiling, but for now, the startup is evaluating what it might take to one day get cryptocurrency to as many people as possible, Blania said. “So many people around the world don’t have access to financial systems yet,” Blania said. “Crypto has the opportunity to get us there.”
Altman left Y Combinator to pursue work in artificial intelligence at OpenAI LLC, a research company he started in 2015 with Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk. They parted ways two years ago over disagreements about OpenAI’s plans. A few months later, the company raised $1 billion from Microsoft Corp. as part of a partnership where the software giant would be the exclusive provider of its cloud computing services. The group has showcased software that can, for example, create authentic-seeming news stories based off of only a few inputs.
It’s even better than Bitcoin because it is capable of tracking your every move and making sure you’re not making bad decisions.
If only the Thais had had these protections… maybe they wouldn’t have made those bad decisions.