Biometric Brouhaha

Dwaiter Weekly


August 17, 2023


Is Worldcoin Truly a Tool for Humanity?

Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency project started by OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, aims to scan billions of human irises using a silver orb outfitted with eyeball-scanning cameras. The idea is to distinguish humans from machines in the era of artificial intelligence, NPR reports.

Proponents say iris IDs will help distinguish real people from robots and serve as a protection against AI advances that could eliminate millions of jobs. But to skeptics, the New York Times reports, the prospect of a privately owned company gathering biometric data from billions of people sounds like a recipe for dystopia.

Tools for Humanity, the company behind Worldcoin, was co-founded in 2019 by Altman. Worldcoin launched officially in July, and early adopters were given an amount of cryptocurrency worth between $50 and $60, AP reports.

As its operations have expanded, resistance also has grown. Data protection authorities in Kenya and Argentina are examining Worldcoin’s operations to determine if it has violated national data protection laws, Biometric Update reports. Data-privacy regulators in Germany and France have also initiated investigations.


The Internet’s Subsea Lifelines

Though satellite links via orbiting systems like SpaceX's Starlink are becoming more important, subsea cables remain the workhorses of global commerce and communications, carrying more than 99 percent of traffic between continents, CNet reports. The fastest transatlantic cable is 400,000 times faster than high-end home broadband. And yet subsea cables are low-tech, too, unspooled by ships employing basically the same process used in the 1850s to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable.


Is Kiva Now Focused on Making Money?

Kiva connects people in wealthier communities with people in poorer ones through small, crowdfunded loans made to individuals through partner companies and organizations around the world. The individual Kiva lenders earn no interest; money is given to microfinance partners for free, and only the original amount is returned. But, the MIT Technology Review reports, some lenders now think the nonprofit's focus has turned to making money.


A Sign of Economic Optimism

Ranked by new business applications per 1,000 residents in 2022, Monroe County placed near the top third among the more than 3,100 counties nationwide, the Rochester Beacon reports. The county accounted for more than three-quarters of the 10,768 new business applications in the six-county Rochester metro region.



  •, a service that allowed users to create custom links for their Discord channels, suffered a major data breach, prompting a decision to shut down all services and operations.
  • Total traditional TV usage—broadcast and pay TV combined—dropped below 50 percent in July for the first time ever, according to Nielsen’s monthly streaming report.
  • Social media users in China are flocking to an AI portrait app called Miaoya (which means "fabulous duck" in Chinese) that charges users $1.40 to generate AI portraits that many say are stunningly accurate.


"It's scary for a company to have a database of that much genetic information."

—Cryptographer David Chaum, on Tools for Humanity, the company behind Worldcoin

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