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Announcing The Starling Lab

Apr 21, 2023
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The Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW) and Protocol Labs are thrilled to announce a new research center tackling the technical and ethical challenges of establishing trust in the most sensitive digital records of our human history.

FFDW is dedicated to preserving humanity’s most important information by supporting the decentralized web community, funding research and development, and educating the public about the decentralized web. FFDW’s $2 million USD long-term donation to The Starling Lab is among its most significant donations to date. The resources will be used to hire full-time staff and fund fellowships at The Lab, bringing together faculty, students, and experts to develop open-source tools, best practices, and case studies to document human and civil rights violations, war crimes, and testimony of genocide.

The announcement was made during RightsCon, the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age. On stage at RightsCon, FFDW Board Chair Marta Belcher and Starling Lab Founding Director Jonathan Dotan discussed the creation of The Starling Lab and the possibilities of strengthening the integrity of history, journalism, and legal accountability in this era of rising digital misinformation.

“The internet was created to spark the greatest expansion of trust in human history. Yet, today we are beset with difficult questions about if and how digital tools can preserve authenticity,” said Dotan. “Our new lab is driving innovation in technology and governance to help re-architect the Internet to restore digital trust and promote lasting civics in our digital life.”

Human rights groups interested in working with organizations like FFDW and The Starling Lab to capture, store, verify, and preserve valuable data sets should visit starlinglab.org/join to learn more about training, education, and grant opportunities.

Co-founded by USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford University’s Department of Electrical Engineering, The Starling Lab catalyzes innovation and education of cryptographic methods and decentralized web protocols to advance human rights. Its mission is to lead by example to show a path to deploy technology and methods that make the decentralized internet a viable platform for social impact. In its first case study, The Starling Lab and Reuters worked together to document the 2020 U.S. presidential transition with an array of new image authentication tools and decentralized web protocols. In the years ahead, The Lab will expand its applied research programs to pioneer digital documentation and education in addressing present-day mass atrocities, intolerance and hate-based violence, and unrest due to climate change.

To learn more, visit starlinglab.org.

About The Starling Lab The Starling Lab brings together a wide array of disciplines to meet the technical and ethical challenges of establishing trust in the most sensitive digital records of our human history. Co-founded by the USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford University’s Department of Electrical Engineering, The Starling Lab’s programs catalyze innovation and education of cryptographic methods and decentralized web protocols to advance human rights. With a bias to responsible action, The Lab’s prototypes will lead by example to show a bright path to deploy technology and methods that make the decentralized internet a viable platform for social impact.

About the Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web Filecoin is a peer-to-peer network designed to store humanity’s most important information. The Filecoin project has two related foundations, each with a unique mission related to its ecosystem, stewarding its governance, and promoting its mission of supporting the decentralized web. The Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW) is a charitable organization whose activities include building and supporting the decentralized web community, funding research and development, and educating the public about the decentralized web.

About Protocol Labs Protocol Labs is an open-source research, development, and deployment laboratory. Our projects include IPFS, Filecoin, libp2p, and many more. We aim to make human existence orders of magnitude better through technology. We are a fully distributed company. Our team of more than 100 members works remotely and in the open to improve the internet — humanity’s most important technology — as we explore new advances in computing and related fields.