Sam Altman says Worldcoin faces huge operational challenges as demand grows

Quick Take

  • Worldcoin co-creator Sam Altman said today in Singapore that overcoming “biometrics resistance” remains a challenge.

Worldcoin, an identity-focused crypto project, faces huge operational challenges, co-creator Sam Altman said today at a conference.

“The operational challenges are obviously huge [when] you think about what it takes to get these orbs manufactured,” Altman, who is also CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI, said on a panel at Token 2049 in Singapore. 

“The other [challenge] is, of course, overcoming that kind of biometrics resistance — for lack of a better word — that some people feel when they first hear about the product,” Altman added. “But again, both of those I think are trending well.”

The Worldcoin project, officially launched on July 24, encourages users to prove their identity online by signing up for a World ID via an iris scan. It has deployed “orbs” in dozens of cities around the world, predominantly in the Global South. 

Surging growth

Alex Blania, co-founder of Worldcoin, said on the same panel that talking to regulators and policymakers worldwide has become a major part of his job after the project went live.

“We had a really crazy, crazy surge in the weeks after launch,” Blania said. “The craziest thing for us was that there were long, long lines of people waiting to set up pretty much everywhere. And that was really hard to manage.” 

Blania added that the team is “ramping back up” and “just scaling” while talking to more policymakers.

Privacy concerns

Concerns over data privacy have dogged the project since well before its launch, but Blania reiterated that Worldcoin doesn’t store the data once the iris scan is done.

“Your data is deleted,” Blania said. “You actually stay completely anonymous, which is a very, very powerful thing, given I do believe that we have to figure this out globally — some kind of verification mechanism on the Internet. And I think World ID is a chance to do that in a really, truly privacy-preserving way.”

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