USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford University Reveal The Starling Lab – PRNewswire

Posted By on June 11, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, June 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ --Today, the USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford University unveil the Starling Lab, a new research center tackling the technical and ethical challenges of establishing trust in the most sensitive digital records of our human history, using the latest advances in cryptography and decentralized web protocols. The announcement was made during RightsCon, the world's leading summit on human rights in the digital age.

The Starling Lab is supported by a long-term, multi-year commitment of funding from the Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW), and by Protocol Labs. An initial $2 million commitment will be used to hire full-time staff and fund fellowships at the Lab, bringing together faculty, students, and industry experts to develop technology and methods that make the decentralized internet a viable platform for social impact.

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 to learn more about training, educational, and grant opportunities.

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 original promise of the internet was to use decentralized systems to give everyone a chance to expand human knowledge and understanding. That vision may seem distant, but it is more vital than ever before," said Jonathan Dotan, founding director of the Starling Lab. "We are passionate to help write a new chapter for the web by innovating with technology and ethics that allow everyone to restore digital trust again."

There have already been notable proofs of concept built by Starling's research teams to document human rights and civil rights violations, war crimes, and genocide testimony. A recent example includes the 78 Days: A Photographic Archive of Trust, an archive of images captured by Reuters' photojournalists documenting the pivotal 78 days of the United States presidential transition between the 2020 election and Inauguration Day.

In the years ahead, the Starling Lab will be the permanent home for future case studies and as an innovation laboratory that explores new decentralized technology and governance in the field to address present-day mass atrocities, intolerance and hate-based violence, and unrest due to climate change. It will bring back these learnings to pioneer new collegiate courses, K-12 curriculum, and professional training modules on digital trust.

Commenting on the launch of the Starling Lab, Colin Evran, Ecosystem Lead at Protocol Labs, said, "The Starling Lab will accelerate the transition from Web2 to Web3, enabling more traditional Web2 companies to store, verify and preserve valuable data sets in powerful new ways using decentralized technologies like Filecoin and IPFS. As a founding partner, Protocol Labs is thrilled to be cementing its long-term commitment to the Starling Lab through funding and world-class mentorship."

"The Starling Lab and FFDW share the mission of preserving humanity's most important information," said Marta Belcher, board chair of the FFDW. "We are thrilled to be able to support the Starling Lab's critical work of documenting human rights abuses and ensuring that that data persists using decentralized web technologies."

Stephen Smith, Finci-Viterbi executive director of USC Shoah Foundation, UNESCO chair on Genocide Education, and faculty director of the Starling Lab at USC, adds, "For over 25 years, the USC Shoah Foundation has embraced advanced technologies that can transform preservation and education as we advance our mission of developing empathy, respect and understanding through testimony. We are grateful for this commitment from FFDW and PL as it will allow us to deepen an important new area of research and fulfill our promise to survivors of genocide by ensuring that their digital history can withstand the test of time."

"The authenticity of digital data can't be taken for granted," said Tsachy Weissman, professor of electrical engineering and faculty director of the Starling Lab at Stanford. "Revisiting many of the problems in information processing through the lens of data authenticity yields exciting research questions that we are looking forward to addressing with this timely framework."

To learn more about the work of the Starling Lab, visit The Starling Lab welcomes organizations to apply to collaborate and be a part of this revolution.

About The Starling LabThe 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, Starling Lab's programs catalyze innovation and education in 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 WebFilecoin 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 LabsProtocol 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.

About USC Shoah FoundationUSC Shoah Foundation The Institute for Visual History and Education develops empathy, understanding and respect through testimony, using its Visual History Archive of more than 55,000 video testimonies, award-winning IWitness education program, and the Center for Advanced Genocide Research. USC Shoah Foundation's interactive programming, research and materials are accessed in museums and universities, cited by government leaders and NGOs, and taught in classrooms around the world. Now in its third decade, USC Shoah Foundation reaches millions of people on six continents from its home at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California.

About Stanford Department of Electrical EngineeringThe Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) at Stanford innovates by conducting fundamental and applied research to develop physical technologies, hardware and software systems, and information technologies. Throughout its 125-year history, EE at Stanford's innovations and entrepreneurship have helped create Silicon Valley, from the invention of microprocessors, public-key cryptography, and MIMO wireless technology. EE's faculty and students continue to advance the state of the art, define new directions for electrical engineering and develop new technologies. These advancements help address critical societal challenges in biology, medicine, energy and the environment.

SOURCE Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web

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USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford University Reveal The Starling Lab - PRNewswire

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