After introducing ChatGPT, the widely recognized chatbot that has sparked an A.I. phenomenon, Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, finds himself immersed in billions of dollars of venture capital funding.
According to information provided by three sources familiar with the matter and speaking to the Financial Times, Worldcoin, a project supported by Sam Altman, is approaching a funding milestone of nearly $100 million.
Altman’s cryptocurrency venture, which aims to persuade billions of individuals to verify their humanity by scanning their irises, has received contributions from both existing and new investors. Notable past supporters include a16z crypto, the venture division of Coinbase, Khosla Ventures, and Sam Bankman-Fried, the controversial founder of the now-insolvent cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
The Worldcoin spokesperson chose not to provide any comment regarding the deal.
Amidst a challenging year for cryptocurrency investments, the news of this funding serves as a positive development. Crunchbase reports a substantial decline in venture funding for Web3 startups, dropping from $9.1 billion in the first quarter of 2022 to $1.7 billion in 2023, marking an 82% year-over-year decrease.
In June 2021, details about Worldcoin, which operates within the broader organization of Tools for Humanity, were first revealed. The project primarily addresses the concerns raised by OpenAI’s depiction of a potential dystopian future dominated by robots: In a society where artificial intelligence is becoming more prevalent, the question arises as to how we can distinguish between humans and non-human entities.
Comprised of experienced software engineers and individuals with Ph.D. qualifications, the Worldcoin team is focused on establishing proof of “humanness” through iris scanning. To encourage users to participate by allowing their irises to be scanned using a chrome ball called the “orb,” the project ultimately decided to distribute a cryptocurrency called Worldcoin to those who take part. In a future scenario where artificial intelligence replaces a significant portion of human jobs, the Worldcoin tokens have the potential to serve as a form of universal basic income.
After Bloomberg initially covered Worldcoin, the project faced criticism regarding its trials involving iris-scanning technology in developing nations. In response, the company has labeled the reports published by BuzzFeed News and MIT Technology Review as unjust and has remained focused on the forthcoming public launch planned for the first half of 2023. Notably, Worldcoin recently introduced the World App, a cryptocurrency wallet capable of storing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and, naturally, Worldcoin.