Deception, exploited workers, and free cash: How Worldcoin recruited its first half a million test users

On a sunny December morning, Ayus Ruswandi, a 35-year-old furniture maker in Gunungguruh, Indonesia, was woken up early by his mother. A technology company has some kind of “social support gift” at a local Islamic primary school, she said, and she urged him to go.

When he got there, WorldCoin representatives were collecting email and phone numbers, or aiming futuristic metal orbs at villagers’ faces so they could scan their irises and other biometric data. What was going on

Two months before Worldcoin appeared in the village of Ruswandi, the San Francisco-based company Tools for Humanity stealth came out of mode. Worldcoin was its product.

The company’s website describes Worldcoin as an etherium-based “new, collective-owned global currency that will be properly distributed to as many people as possible.” Everyone in the world will get a free share જો if they agree to scan the iris with a device that resembles a decapitated robot head, which the company calls “Chrome Orb.”

Orb needed WorldCoin’s commitment to fairness, the website continued: Everyone should get their share of the digital currency-and no more. To make sure there was no double-dipping, Chrome Orb will scan participants’ irises and some other biometric data points and then cryptographically confirm that they are human and unique in Worldcoin’s database.

Gunungguru was not alone in visiting Worldcoin. The MIT Technology Review interviewed more than 35 individuals in six countries: Indonesia, Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, Chile, and Norway who worked for or on behalf of Worldcoin, were scanned, or were unsuccessfully recruited to participate.

Our investigation highlights the wide gap between Worldcoin’s public messaging, which focuses on protecting privacy and what users have experienced. We found that company representatives used deceptive marketing practices, collected more personal data than he admitted, and failed to obtain meaningful informed consent. These practices may violate multiple laws. Read the full investigation. Read the full story.

Eileen Guo and Adi Reynolds

This equestrian astronaut is a landmark in AI’s ability to understand the world

New Age for AI: When OpenAI unveiled its imaging neural network DALL-E in early 2021, the human-like ability to combine the various concepts of the program into images was astonishing. Now, the San Francisco-based lab has announced its successor, the DALL-E 2, which produces much better images, is easier to use, and will be released (finally) to the public, unlike the original version.

What has changed? Image-generation models have come a long way in just a few years. Although previous results have been distorted and obscure, DALL-E 2’s compositions can be spectacular: ask him to create images of astronauts on horseback (see above), teddy-bear scientists. Or marine otters in the style of Vermeer, and it does so with close photorealism.

What now AI raises questions about what we mean by intelligence, especially in terms of its creativity. Read the full story (and check out the amazing images!)

-Will Douglas Heaven

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I used the internet to find out some of the most fun / important / scary / compelling stories about technology today.

1 wants to launch its own virtual currency for meta metavers
Is there anyone for Zuck Bucks? (FT)
, Memcoins spread by viral moments are risky investments. (WP)
, The female celebrity wants other women to join the NFT brass system in cash(WP)
, The owner of NFT is selling Jack Dorsey’s first tweet for 16 times the amount he paid. (Bloomberg 2)

2 Cowid’s cases are not yet increasing in the US
A new wave seems less likely than it was a few weeks ago, but cases could still climb. (NYT)
, Officials have warned that if we want new vaccines, clinical trials will need to begin in May.(NYT)
, Catching Kovid increases the risk of fatal blood clots(The Guardian)
, Millions of people still suffer from covid(CNN)
, We still don’t know how big a problem covid has been in children for a long time. (TR)

3 Europe is building a huge face recognition policing database
Opponents believe it could be the world’s most comprehensive biometric surveillance infrastructure. (Wired $)
, Facial recognition is used to verify the identity of tourists in Ukraine. (NYT)

4 Google has removed apps containing secret data-harvesting codes from its Play Store
The company pays responsible developers to insert code into more than a dozen applications. (WSJ)
, Internet advertisers are adopting new ways to collect and monetize your data. (NYT)
, Apple’s Aartags are used to chase women across the US. (Motherboard)

5 France’s far right is mimicking Trump’s online disinformation tactics
And social media platforms have failed to control its extreme messaging. (Bloomberg 2)

6 A monk is advising the Pope on AI
The church is concerned about how it could undermine equality. (FT)
, LinkedIn’s AI demonstrates its performance for the enjoyment of its customers(Reuters)

7 Twitch viewers are derailing with their emotional confession
Those streamers remain unsure of how to deal with “trauma dumping” in their chats. (Input mag)

8 In this hyperconnected day and age, who keeps secret?
We are trying to protect privacy with old tools. (Atlantic 2)

9 Is this the perfect home office setup?
Not ideal for gaming, but everything else is (wired)
, Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of home office is very boring(Engage)

10 How the city of Zimbabwe became an unlikely remote working hub
Black market SIM cards have made it an affordable internet haven. (Rest of the world)

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