May 29, 2024

Vitalik Buterin Addresses Key Concerns as Worldcoin’s Token Launch Sparks Debate

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has published an extensive essay sharing his thoughts on the newly introduced Worldcoin human identity verification system. On July 24, Buterin took to Twitter to express his response to the launch of Worldcoin on the same day.

In his essay, Buterin not only delved into the mechanics of Worldcoin and its intended operation but also explored the broader concept of “proof-of-humanity” that underpins the Worldcoin token.

Worldcoin, along with other identity solutions like Proof of Humanity, BrightID, Idenam, and Circles, foresee a future where distinguishing between humans and machines becomes increasingly challenging as artificial intelligence (AI) progresses. Many of these systems, including Worldcoin, propose token-based approaches and advocate for a universal basic income to protect the human utility from the threat of bots.

Buterin contends that these circumstances necessitate the implementation of digital verification systems for humans. He believes that establishing a robust proof-of-personhood mechanism is crucial in addressing “anti-spam and anti-concentration-of-power problems.” He writes, “If proof of personhood is not solved, decentralized governance becomes much easier to capture by very wealthy actors, including hostile governments.”

The Ethereum co-founder also acknowledges four major concerns surrounding such solutions: privacy, accessibility, centralization within the Worldcoin Foundation, and security. However, he highlights that these issues should be addressed collectively by the community with audits, checks, and balances.

Steve Dakh, a developer working on the Ethereum Attestation Service (EAS), sees potential for systems like Worldcoin to complement EAS. Buterin concludes by stating that there is currently no perfect form of proof of personhood and envisions three different approaches that might eventually merge into a hybrid solution. He calls for accountability within the community during the design and implementation process, acknowledging the challenges faced in creating such systems.

Despite acknowledging the complexities involved, Buterin warns against a world without proof of personhood, as it could lead to dominance by centralized identity solutions, money, small closed communities, or a combination of these elements.

As of July 14, a week before the system’s launch, Worldcoin had already surpassed 2 million sign-ups for World ID, achieving this milestone in less than half the time it took to reach the first million.

Image: Wikimedia

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