Identifying, Human or AI
Innovation Where Money, AI, Identity, and Blockchain Converge
We’re currently seeing a great deal of innovation in financial services at the intersection of money, artificial intelligence (AI), identity and blockchain. Worldcoin from Sam Altman is the new poster child of Generative AI.
Traditionally, Banks have been custodians for key aspects of our identity as their primary function is to move numbers from one spreadsheet to another with confidence that they know who the owners of the two spreadsheets are. And doing it securely so nobody else can see what’s occurring.
Building this confidence has required massive investment in an ever-evolving set of processes and technologies. But the upshot is that custodianship has meant banks now play a pivotal role in validating identities. Today, if a bank agrees that “I am Karolis”, it will generally be accepted as fact. Government-issued IDs, such as passports and driving licenses, provide similar comfort levels.
But AI is proving to be an existential threat to identity, and that certainty is starting to erode.
Generative AI has already started to disrupt the news and broader media industry, as we see a substantial increase in large amounts of fake news. From the Pope wearing a puffer jacket (see below) to articles supposedly from legitimate news sources which are not in fact legitimate news sources, the disinformation genie is long gone from the bottle.
AI’s ability to create images, sounds and even videos could result in mimics, bypassing institutions’ security. Soon, a bank vouching for someone may no longer be good enough. And this threat is the Worldcoin opportunity.
Worldcoin positions itself as a response to the era of AI, in which the need to verify personhood is critical. It also has an underlying dream of the democratisation of money.
According to Alex Blania, Worldcoin’s co-founder and CEO of Tools for Humanity, “Worldcoin’s groundbreaking technology seeks to grant everyone—irrespective of their background, location or income—a gateway into the expanding digital global economy, all the while ensuring decentralisation and safeguarding their privacy.”
And it is worth unpacking Worldcoin to take a closer look at its components. It is intended to be the world’s largest, most inclusive identity and financial public utility, owned by everyone. The Worldcoin protocol currently consists of the following:
- World ID is a privacy-preserving digital identity designed to help solve critical, identity-based challenges, including proving an individual’s unique personhood.
- Worldcoin token (WLD) essentially acts as the first digital currency to be freely distributed to people for just being a unique human.
- World App, the first World ID-compatible app developed and operated by Tools for Humanity, enables payment, purchases and transfers globally using digital assets and fiat-backed stablecoins.
So far, more than two million people have signed up for the Orb. However, many people have pointed out that governments are already on the case when it comes to identity.
Government / Corporate Application
The India Stack is a set of digital identity products centred around Aadhaar, India’s national identity programme. More than 1.31 billion people (95% of India’s population) possess an Aadhaar number, enabling various actions:
- Remote authentication of attributes (name, age, address, mobile number, email, gender) via two-factor or biometric methods.
- Obtaining digitally signed universal copies of lifelong records (licenses, diplomas, insurance, etc.).
- Signing documents/messages using government-backed digital signatures.
Considering Aadhaar’s iris scan, does a country like India require Worldcoin?
The US has Clear. Clear uses biometrics (fingerprint, iris and face recognition) to establish an individual’s identity. The most well-known application of Clear’s technology is in US airports. Now broadening into boarding passes or hotel check-ins, leisure and healthcare.
Biometric-based identities are clearly enhancing security and streamlining various processes. This growing recognition is sparking interest from different directions, leading to innovative offerings driven by the coming together of blockchain, finance, and AI.
People are now grappling with a choice: entrust their identities to private companies, governments, or a combination of both?
Ultimately, the potentially added value to someone’s everyday life will guide this decision. After all, who wouldn’t want quicker travel, smarter shopping, and a global digital wallet?
Well, I must get going. Off to my Worldcoin iris scan appointment!
Written by Karolis Kundrotas
📅 This Week in Crypto 📅
Imperial College London announced a collaboration with AI startup FluidAI to help troubleshoot issues in the digital asset market using emerging technologies, such as liquidity aggregation. The university’s AI lab I-X will be working alongside FluidAI to improve the “tokenised market” for institutions, trading platforms and retail investors.
Given the tumultuous news cycle, investors would be reasonable to expect that this volatility would carry over to the crypto sector. @Bitcoin specifically, long associated with higher-than-normal volatility, seems like an asset that would mirror this higher volatility. Instead, and to the surprise of some market watchers and investors, the price of Bitcoin has continued to hold steady for the last several months.
In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, a trio of game-changing technologies is reshaping the way we learn, teach, and engage with knowledge. Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Metaverse are poised to revolutionise traditional educational paradigms, offering unprecedented opportunities for personalised learning, secure credentialing, and immersive virtual experiences.
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