Ethereum’s Buterin concerned about Worldcoin by Sam Altman.

Ethereum's Buterin concerned about Worldcoin by Sam Altman.

The Concerns and Complexities of Worldcoin’s Proof-of-Personhood System

Blockchain technology has brought about numerous innovations and advancements in various industries over the years. One of the latest projects to emerge is Worldcoin, a crypto project that aims to authenticate users without relying on traditional methods. However, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has raised concerns about Worldcoin’s authentication system, called “Proof-of-Personhood” (PoP). In this article, we will explore the background of Worldcoin, examine the concerns raised by Buterin, and discuss the complexities of implementing a secure and decentralized proof-of-personhood system.

Understanding Worldcoin’s Proof-of-Personhood System

Worldcoin claims to offer a unique user authentication system that does not store personal data or rely on a central authority. To obtain a “World ID,” users must scan their iris using a device known as an “Orb.” Compatible applications, such as Worldcoin’s wallet, can then use this network of authenticated users to improve services and eliminate bots.

The concept behind Worldcoin’s authentication system is intriguing, as it promises privacy and security without compromising user data. However, Buterin raises four major concerns that warrant further examination.

Concerns Surrounding Worldcoin’s Proof-of-Personhood

Privacy Concerns

Buterin points out that scanning one’s iris may unintentionally reveal more information than intended. For example, if someone scans the iris of a World ID holder, they can cross-reference it with the Worldcoin database to determine whether the person is part of the system. This raises questions about the privacy implications of the technology.

Accessibility Challenges

Another concern raised by Buterin is the limited accessibility of World IDs. Obtaining an “Orb” device required for scanning irises might prove challenging for many users, potentially excluding a large portion of the population from participating in Worldcoin’s network.

Centralization Risks

The reliance on specialized hardware, like the “Orb,” introduces centralization risks. Buterin highlights the possibility for the Worldcoin Foundation to insert backdoors, allowing them to create fake identities within the system. This centralized control undermines the core principles of decentralization that blockchain technology champions.

Security Vulnerabilities

Lastly, Buterin expresses concerns regarding security vulnerabilities associated with the scanning process. Given that users’ phones can be hacked, an attacker could coerce individuals into providing their iris scans. This potential threat compromises the integrity and security of Worldcoin’s proof-of-personhood system.

Exploring the Complexities of Proof-of-Personhood

Buterin acknowledges that finding a foolproof solution to these concerns is challenging. He presents three paradigms for approaching proof-of-personhood: social-graph-based, general-hardware biometric, and specialized-hardware-biometric solutions like Worldcoin’s.

Each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses. Worldcoin’s specialized hardware solution shows promise in protecting user privacy, but it also introduces greater centralization concerns. Achieving a balance between privacy, security, accessibility, and decentralization remains a complex task for any proof-of-personhood framework.


Worldcoin’s innovative approach to user authentication through its Proof-of-Personhood system has brought attention to the potential benefits and challenges of such technology. Vitalik Buterin’s concerns shed light on the complexities that arise when implementing such systems, particularly in terms of privacy, accessibility, centralization, and security.

While Worldcoin’s system demonstrates progress in protecting user privacy, it also highlights the need for careful consideration of potential risks and vulnerabilities. As the blockchain industry continues to evolve, finding the right balance between innovation and security will be crucial in fostering wider adoption and ensuring the long-term success of blockchain-powered projects like Worldcoin.

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