Opinion: Americans shouldn’t offer their eyeballs to WorldCoin

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No one at all should offer their biometric data to WorldCoin, regardless of which country they’re in. But those residing in the United States have even less incentive to do so.

If you’re unfamiliar with WorldCoin, it’s a cryptocurrency created by Sam Altman, the same entrepreneur and venture capitalist that brought the world OpenAI and ChatGPT. The protocol relies on what it calls Orbs — melon-sized silver balls that scan people’s retinas to acquire their biometric data. In most of the world, the sales pitch goes something like this:

If you scan your irises, you’ll get WorldCoin (cryptocurrency), which isn’t currently traded on any open marketplace. You’ll get to be involved with the WorldCoin Network, which will (supposedly and eventually) be a marketplace where people can trade real-world goods and services for WorldCoin.

But in the US, where WorldCoin would probably be considered a security by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the trade-off for your biometric data is even more bleak: you get nothing, you lose, good day.

One million people already gave up their biometric data for WorldCoin

An employee at WorldCoin might argue that the incentive is the product itself: there’s no need for token trickery or blatant bribery — don’t you want to be able to prove your “humanness” (a horrifying term thought up by the WorldCoin team)? By offering your unique biometrics to this private corporation (going by the laughable name Tools for Humanity) you’ll finally be able to prove you’re really you, in a world dominated by AI fakes.

But as the old adage goes, “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” This is troubling when you consider that over a million people have already allowed WorldCoin to get hold of their biometric data, at least according to the self-reported numbers. What do they plan to do with this extremely personal data? It’s hard to say, but they have it now.

Read more: Fuck Worldcoin, crypto’s Theranos fever dream cooked up in Silicon Valley

In the dystopian future we walk closer towards everyday, I suppose there could be some economical method to determine if it’s worth granting access to the most unique and personal data you have to a multibillion dollar venture capital-funded company, but if the trade off is quite literally getting nothing — no bribe, no token, no way of clawing your data back, and no network to interact with — then what’s the business model?

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