Start-up funded by OpenAI CEO releases SDK


Proving human identity may become increasingly important in the age of artificial intelligence. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, is betting on it with his startup Worldcoin.

Founded in Berlin in 2019, crypto startup Worldcoin specializes in identifying people using biometric iris scans, in addition to establishing a global cryptocurrency.

“The advancement of AI has rendered data that can be digitally generated insufficient for attesting one’s human status. As a result, the focus needs to shift toward verifying humanness through real-world attestations,” Worldcoin writes.

Using a special camera called the “orb,” pairs of eyes are scanned by so-called “orb operators” in exchange for cryptocurrency or other rewards. The scans are converted directly into a unique identifier after capture and then deleted.


Personen schauen in ein rundes silbernes Objekt, das ihre Iris scannt, Fotografie.
The Orb in action during iris scanning. | Picture: Worldcoin

The Orb Operators are out in the field collecting eyeballs in many countries. Worldcoin is scheduled for release in the first half of 2023, and the World ID SDK (see below) has been available since mid-March.

According to Worldcoin, the World-ID protocol is an open, permissionless identity protocol that people can use to prove information about themselves. so far, more than 1.4 million people have participated, according to Worldcoin. Orb scans are currently available primarily in Argentina, Chile, India, Kenya, Portugal, and Spain. A wider rollout is expected later this year, with the project soon entering a “next phase”.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speculates on the importance of human identity

With his company OpenAI’s GPT language models, CEO Sam Altman is making it possible for many more people to produce much more text. Whether a text – or content in general – was generated by a human or a machine may become more important in the future, both in business and in private life.

For example, publishers may be interested in highlighting articles written by human journalists. In personal contact, I might be interested in whether the person I’m talking to takes the trouble to write me personally instead of having an AI reply. Senders not verified as human could be automatically rejected to massively reduce SPAM. There are countless scenarios like these.

Altman envisioned the identity problem that OpenAI’s technology might create as early as 2019 – and launched Worldcoin. The startup now has a new umbrella organization, Tools for Humanity, which describes itself as a product-oriented research lab and is working alongside the project, such as developing the Orb camera. Altman is a board member of Worldcoin.


integrated into all types of applicationssupports multiple types of verification, including by phone number.

Picture: Worldcoin

According to Worldcoin, the recognition system has two main goals in the context of generative AI: First, it aims to prevent people from using false identities on the Internet to obtain scarce resources, such as a basic income, by reliably limiting the number of accounts a person can create. Second, it aims to prevent the mass distribution of AI-generated disinformation. The SDK is available here.

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