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Worldcoin: Where Techno-Optimism Meets Techno-Colonialism
24th April 2022 • The Sunday Show • Tech Policy Press
00:00:00 01:05:59

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There is a growing literature and practice around how to equitably collaborate with traditionally marginalized communities to build better technology. A pair of investigative reports into Worldcoin’s launch may well serve as the basis for an instructive case study in what not to do. 

The first report, by Richard Nieva and Aman Sethi at BuzzFeed News, was published April 5th. It’s titled Inside Worldcoin’s Globe-Spanning, Eyeball-Scanning, Free Crypto Giveaway: The Sam Altman–founded company Worldcoin says it aims to alleviate global poverty, but so far it has angered the very people it claims to be helping.

The second report, by Eileen Guo & Adi Renaldi at MIT Technology Review, was published April 6th. It’s titled Deception, exploited workers, and cash handouts: How Worldcoin recruited its first half a million test users: The startup promises a fairly-distributed, cryptocurrency-based universal basic income. So far all it's done is build a biometric database from the bodies of the poor.

Tech Policy Press had the chance to talk to both pairs of journalists separately last week.