The University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation and Stanford University have partnered on The Starling Lab, which will be dedicated to using decentralized tools based on cryptography and blockchain to advance the cause of human rights.
The two organizations have a commitment for $2 million in funding from Protocol Labs and the Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web to make the Starling Lab into the first such center in the world.
The lab will tackle the technical and ethical challenges of establishing trust around 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. I wrote about how Project Starling worked with Reuters to collect photos documenting 78 days in the recent U.S. presidential transition. That project used a variety of technological solutions to verify the authenticity of the photos — including those of the Capitol riot.
“The Reuters project was a good example of the types of things that we were looking to do as an initial set of prototypes,” Starling Lab founding director Jonathan Dotan said in an interview with VentureBeat. “And both universities realized that there was a tremendous need to look into further study of the decentralized web. And that was a massive change in terms of our understanding of the importance of this work. So it wasn’t just about a series of technologies or best practices, but this is actually about the re-architecting of the internet, end to end. And so the decision was taken to create the first dedicated research center in the world, specifically on looking at the decentralized web and how it can be used to advance human rights.”