People who donated their eyeballs to Worldcoin feel cheated

Worldcoin promised 'unprecedented economic growth' for all. But nearly six months after launch, many who signed up still haven't been paid.
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Last October, venture capitalist backer Sam Altman promised that his biometric data farming experiment Worldcoin was the first step on the road to “unprecedented economic growth” for all.

But six months on, many who signed up to help get Worldcoin off the ground are still waiting for their money, reports BuzzFeed News.

The idea behind Worldcoin was an ambitious one:

  • Every person on Earth can claim a small sum of Worldcoin tokens by scanning their irises (and the rest of their bodies). This is done with a device known as an “Orb.”
  • Scanning ensures everybody is counted once and only receives one payment (the device is pitched as a tool for Sybil resistance when distributing cryptocurrency).
  • The company wants to build a worldwide network of “Orb Operators” who earn by scanning as many eyeballs as possible.

Volunteers who first had their biometrics scanned were initially promised $20 worth of Worldcoin. The project’s website claimed this would be paid out over two years, with 10% given up front.

However, as of late last year, they’re now given a nebulous 25 tokens which have no publicly assigned price, so could be totally worthless.

Orb Operators, on the other hand, agreed to receive flat $3 worth of Tether for every sign-up, according to Buzzfeed News.

This apparently increases to $6 per scan when they hit signup targets of 500 per week. Although, many Orb Operators claim to have been stiffed on their commissions.

They’ve also reportedly faced harassment from angry users who never received their Worldcoin tokens despite giving up their biometrics to the Silicon Valley startup.

Worldcoin test subjects say they’re just lab rats

Worldcoin participants have also endured multiple changes in the promised payment structure. Technical glitches aside, much of the problem stems from repeated delays in launching the actual Worldcoin token.

This is now slated to happen “later this year.” Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Worldcoin chief exec Alex Blania said the problems with the rollout are just part of a learning process.

“Quite surely, in some places, communication, marketing, all of those things, could have been clearer and better,” said Blania. “And we will improve that.”

Blania’s pledge to actually issue the promised Worldcoin token isn’t cutting much ice with operators. Buzzfeed News relayed WhatsApp messages from worried members.

“We get a lot of shit about this, and if is postponed again I’ll have to buy flight tickets and flee the country,” quipped one, our emphasis.

“They are using us as lab rats for trial [and] error,” complained another, while a third upped the ante by saying, “we’re gonna be hung in the public square.”

Sam Altman was forced to defend the Worldcoin concept from criticism levied by Edward Snowden last October.

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

Complaints from some of the project’s earliest iris donators, as relayed by Worldcoin’s Orb Operators, are even more startling.

“Now, more than three months [later], what did you do with our eyes?” asked one via text (our emphasis).

Another branded Worldcoin “the same as other scams,” while someone else labeled the operators “thieves” for “stealing their eyes.”

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Out now: the first four episodes of our ongoing investigative podcast series Innovated: Blockchain City.