Worldcoin’s orb revamp hopes to be less Black Mirror, more Apple

Controversial crypto project Worldcoin is hoping that an Apple-style makeover of its infamous retina scanning orbs will help the company shed some of its dystopian image.

Worldcoin orbs scan and upload people’s irises to its biometric database as a means to assign “World IDs” and become what it says will be the “world’s largest digital identity and financial network.” Users have previously received Worldcoin crypto tokens as payment for their biometric data.

However, the technology has been branded exploitative and deceptive by the MIT Technology Review. Users of the orb have reportedly called the project “dystopian” and “creepy.”

Alex Blania, the CEO of Worldcoin’s parent company Tools for Humanity, told TechCrunch on Wednesday that their mission is to “race toward billions of users as fast as we possibly can.” 

The orbs will change in color and shape in a bid to look “much more friendly.” He said the “next iterations will look quite different,” be “way [more] tuned down,” and similar to “an Apple product.”

Read more: Eye-scanning Worldcoin stops eye scans in multiple countries, reports

Blania also made an effort to distance himself from the current design, telling TechCrunch the original plans were implemented before he joined the company four years ago. He said the newest iteration of Worldcoin will arrive in the first half of 2024.

Worldcoin crypto-colonialism

An Apple-inspired design change for the Worldcoin orbs might not be enough to shake previous perceptions of the project. In 2022, the MIT Technology Review spoke to a senior lecturer specialized in international crypto development who said Worldcoin’s action can be viewed as crypto-colonialism. 

That is, he said, where “blockchain and cryptocurrency experiments are being imposed on vulnerable communities essentially because…these people can’t push back.”  

MIT concluded from its discussion that “it’s just cheaper and easier to run this kind of data collection operation in places where people have little money and few legal protections.”

Worldcoin claims to operate its verification services across 35 countries. It recently paused its services in France, Brazil, and India.

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