Understanding Worldcoin in One Article Core Ideas, Components, How it Works, and Potential Use Cases
Understanding Worldcoin Core Ideas, Components, How it Works, and Use Cases
Author: worldcoin whiteLianGuaiper; Translator: LianGuai
Introduction to Worldcoin
The establishment of Worldcoin aims to create a globally inclusive identity and financial network that is accessible to the majority. If successful, Worldcoin can significantly increase economic opportunities, provide a reliable solution to differentiate between humans and online AI, protect privacy, realize global democratic processes, and demonstrate the potential path to AI-supported global basic income.
Worldcoin consists of a privacy-protecting digital identity network (World ID) and a digital currency (WLD) within the bounds of the law. Everyone is eligible to obtain WLD simply because they are human. World ID and WLD are currently implemented through the World App, which is the first frontend supporting World ID and the Worldcoin protocol, developed by the contribution team of Tools for Humanity (TFH).
“Human identity proof” is one of the core ideas behind Worldcoin, referring to the confirmation that a person is both human and a unique individual. Once confirmed, individuals can assert that they are a real person, distinct from other real people, without revealing their real-world identity.
Today, “human identity proof” on a global scale remains an unresolved issue, making online voting or large-scale distribution of value difficult. As increasingly powerful AI models further increase the difficulty of distinguishing between humans and machines, this problem becomes more pressing. If Worldcoin achieves partial success, World ID can become the standard for global human identity proof.
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Some core assumptions of Worldcoin include:
1. Human identity proof is a missing and necessary digital product. As more powerful AI models emerge, this product will become more important.
2. Scalable and inclusive human identity proof enables incentives for all network participants to revolve around adding real humans to the network. Bitcoin was issued to secure the Bitcoin network. Worldcoin, on the other hand, was issued to scale the Worldcoin network, with its security inherited from Ethereum.
3. In the age of increasingly powerful AI, the most reliable way to issue global human identity proof is through custom biometric hardware.
The dynamic whitepaper introduces the reasons for project implementation, as well as the current status and roadmap.
World ID is a privacy-protecting global identity network. Through zero-knowledge proofs, it allows users to verify their human identity in online environments while protecting privacy. Users can obtain World ID through a custom biometric device called Orb. Orb is based on the recognition that custom biometric hardware may be the only long-term viable solution for issuing AI-secure human identity verification. World ID is issued through the Worldcoin protocol, which allows individuals to prove that they are human to any validator (including Web2 applications) while protecting privacy through zero-knowledge proofs. In the future, other credentials may also be issued on this protocol.
The goal of World ID is to be bound to individuals, meaning that World ID can only be used by the individual it is issued to. Users should find it difficult to use stolen or obtained World ID credentials for fraudulent purposes. Additionally, individuals should always have the possibility to regain lost or stolen World ID.
While the network effect will eventually bring useful applications built on top of financial and identity infrastructure, tokens are issued to all network participants to align their incentives with network growth. This is particularly important in the early stages to bootstrap the network and avoid the “cold start problem”. This could make Worldcoin Token (WLD) the most widely distributed digital asset.
The World App is the first frontend that supports the creation of World ID: it guides individuals through Orb verification, securely stores their personal World ID credentials in a privacy-preserving manner, and implements encryption protocols to share these credentials with third parties. It aims to provide frictionless access to a global decentralized financial infrastructure. Eventually, there should be many different wallets integrating World ID.
How does Worldcoin work?
Worldcoin revolves around World ID, a privacy-preserving global identity network. With World ID, individuals will be able to prove that they are a real and unique person to any platform integrated with the protocol. This will enable fair airdrops, provide protection against bots/fake accounts on social media, and achieve more equitable allocation of limited resources. Additionally, World ID can also enable global democratic processes and new forms of governance (e.g., through quadratic voting) and ultimately support the path to AI-funded Universal Basic Income (UBI).
To participate in the Worldcoin protocol, individuals must first download the World App, a wallet application that supports the creation of World ID. Individuals need access to a physical imaging device called Orb to obtain a World ID verified by Orb. Most Orbs are operated by independent local enterprise networks called Orb Operators. Orbs use multi-spectral sensors to verify humanity and uniqueness, issue Orb-verified World IDs, and promptly delete all images on the device (unless explicit consent for data retention is given).
Potential Use Cases
Worldcoin can drive a future where everyone can participate in the global digital economy, greatly increasing global opportunities for equality through universally accessible decentralized financial and identity infrastructure. As the network evolves, its utility will also increase.
However, many interactions in the digital realm are currently impossible on a global scale. The way humans transact value, authenticate identity, and interact on the internet could fundamentally change. Through universal access to financial and identity systems, the following futures could become possible:
Ownership and transfer of digital currencies: Sending funds globally will become almost instant and borderless. It will be accessible to everyone. The world will be connected financially, and everyone will be able to engage in economic transactions on the internet. For example, the COVID relief fund for India, which received support from individuals globally and raised over $400 million, is an indication of what is possible. Overall, this has the potential to connect people globally in unprecedented ways in human history.
Digital currency is more secure than cash, which is more susceptible to theft or counterfeiting. This is especially important in crisis situations that require instant cross-border financial transactions, such as during the Ukrainian refugee crisis, where USDC was used for direct aid distribution. Additionally, digital currency is an asset that individuals can directly own and control without relying on third parties.
Preventing entry of robots: Robots on Twitter, spam emails, and robot calls are all the result of a lack of reliable and frictionless digital identities. With the rapid development of AI models that can solve CAPTCHAs and generate convincing “human” content, these problems will worsen. It becomes crucial to have a public infrastructure that proves human identity, provides inclusive and privacy-preserving solutions, and filters out a lot of noise from the digital world if every message or transaction includes a “verified human” attribute.
Governance: Currently, collective decision-making in Web3 relies mainly on token-based governance (one token, one vote), which excludes some people and heavily favors those with more economic power. Reliable human identity proofs that can resist replay attacks, such as World ID, open up design space for global democratic governance mechanisms that are applicable not only to Web3 but also to the Internet. Additionally, to ensure that AI benefits everyone to the maximum extent, not just a few, the inclusion of everyone in its governance will become increasingly important.
Intersection of Finance and Identity
Incentive allocation: Traditional ways of sharing value, such as coupons, loyalty programs, and referral programs, are traditionally susceptible to fraud because the incentives for fraudulent behavior are high. Frictionless and anti-fraud digital identities contribute to incentive allocation that benefits both consumers and companies. This may even trigger a new wave of companies partially owned by their users.
Fair distribution of limited resources: Key elements of modern society, including subsidies and social welfare, can achieve greater fairness through the use of human identity proofs. This is particularly important in developing economies where social welfare programs face issues of resource acquisition – obtaining more than one’s fair share of resources using false identities. In 2021, India saved $5 billion in subsidy programs by implementing a biometrics-based system. Decentralized human identity proof protocols can extend similar benefits to any project or organization globally. As AI advances, the value created and accessed through fair distribution of a global basic income will play an increasingly important role in offsetting the concentration of economic power. World ID can ensure that each individual only registers once and guarantees fair distribution.