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The spirits that I called...
Sam Altman is massively pushing the development of artificial intelligence, and with advances in AI come major problems that Sam Altman is working on as well 🤷♂️ The spirits that I called...
This is MadeMeThink.xyz – A weekly publication with thoughts on disruptive Technologies (e.g. AI | Web3 | Metaverse), their Applications, Opportunities, and Impact. Written by Prof. Thomas Metzler, Ph.D.
This MadeMeThink last week…
Da Vinci and his immersive experience…
During a recent visit to Milan, a city steeped in history and culture, I had the privilege of witnessing Leonardo da Vinci's iconic masterpiece, "The Last Supper." Painted in the late 15th century, this fresco is not just a testament to da Vinci's unparalleled skill, but also to his innovative approach to composition. Contrary to the conventional portrayal of such scenes, da Vinci chose to depict all the apostles from the front, ensuring that every face was clearly visible.
This deliberate arrangement was not merely aesthetic but stemmed from the artist's desire to offer viewers an immersive experience, drawing them deeply into the biblical moment.
This setup by da Vinci is a compelling reminder of humanity's age-old quest for immersion in art and storytelling. Therefore, it is not surprising that centuries later we are still developing technology to create even more intense experiences.
Da Vinci spent four years working on his masterpiece. Interesting detail that I learned through the tour: The passage that is visible under the artwork was created years later, for practical reasons, the monastic brothers literally did not want to walk a detour and a more direct access between the rooms. This removed part of the Last Supper, the feet of Jesus, but saved the monks a few seconds on the way to the soup kitchen. Well, you have to set some priorities 🤷♂️🙈
Great startups solve great problems...
But it often not even so easy to find a “great” problem. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, is driving the development of artificial intelligence on a massive scale, and while artificial intelligence holds a lot of potential, it also comes with some big challenges and major problems for society, e.g. fake content, deepfakes, misinformation, digital identity theft, job loss… These are some big problems that can be worked on, Sam Altman probably thought, and so he is working on WordCoin, a company that is supposed to deal with the problems he is (co-)causing with OpenAI. Perhaps we should transform Goethe's "The spirits that I called" into Altman's "The problems that I caused".
In case you don't know WorldCoin, that's what it's all about (and read even more details in the WorldCoin Whitepaper):
“(Worldcoin is) a way to definitively distinguish between humans and AIs. If all humans online could prove that they were, in fact, humans, then scams and imposters would dramatically decrease, and the digital landscapes would become more accurate representations of us as a society. So in order to prove that humans are humans, Worldcoin scans irises, which are unique to their owners.” - Time (2023)
The scan of your iris is therefore the proof that you are a human (“Proof-of Personhood”) and not an AI and should therefore prevent online AI fakes (among other things) in the future (and thus address the unique-human problem that is massively amplified online by AI). Each user who has their iris scanned using a so-called Orb receive 25 $WLD tokens, Worldcoin's cryptocurrency, worth about $36 as of today. The $WLD token was launched in July 2023, which is why Worldcoin is now back in the news heavily (although the company behind it - Tools for Humanity - was founded back in 2019). The $WLD token currently has a market cap of $183 million (with a fully diluted valuation of $14 billion).
In the picture below you can see an Orb used to scan the humans iris. Edward Snowden is not enthusiastic about all this, on Twitter he wrote:
"Don't use biometrics for anti-fraud. In fact, don’t use biometrics for anything” - Edward Snowden (Tweet).
According to Sam Altman, the World ID generated (= proof that someone is a human being) could also be used to distribute a Universal Basic Income (short UBI) in the future in order to share parts of the value creation through AI worldwide. As described in my last article, there are many challenging political issues ahead (UBI is one of them), some of which Altman is addressing with WorldCoin before politics.
The MIT Technology Review published a quite critical (and worth reading) investigative article on WorldCoin a year ago, for those interested it can be found here.
Recently, Vitalik Buterin (the co-founder of Ethereum) also wrote a lengthy article on proof-of-personhood / WorldCoin. His conclusion:
On the whole, despite the "dystopian vibez" of staring into an Orb and letting it scan deeply into your eyeballs, it does seem like specialized hardware systems can do quite a decent job of protecting privacy. However, the flip side of this is that specialized hardware systems introduce much greater centralization concerns. Hence, we cypherpunks seem to be stuck in a bind: we have to trade off one deeply-held cypherpunk value against another. - Vitalik Buterin (Source)
Okay, I have to stop here now, otherwise today's newsletter will swallow up too much time.... a lot of interesting things happened in the last weeks, I read a lot of fascinating things and I will report about them in the next weeks. For all those who want to know even more about Sam Altman's projects, I recommend the two following video interviews...
One last nice quote from Sam Altman from the WorldCoin video below on startups and what they are capable of:
“One of the things I love most about startups is watching people learn just how much they can get done and how much they're capable of, small teams in particular and that's been very fun to see the WorldCoin team do all these things (...) aligned small groups of talented people can accomplish so much more than they realise, because they're like their comparison is working in a big company or being in school or something like that.” (Source, Time in Video: 38:39)
Disclaimer: The thoughts published in this publication are my personal opinions and should not be viewed as investment advice. I am not a financial expert. My specialty is entrepreneurship, marketing & innovation. Readers should always do their own research.