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June 28, 2024

Exploring Content Authenticity with Starling Labs and Livepeer Studio

The rise of generative AI has created tremendous innovation, but it also created strong concerns about misinformation and content authenticity. This is an area that modern cryptography and blockchain technology can help address. 

At Livepeer Studio, we had the pleasure of hosting a fascinating discussion with Adam and Lindsay from Starling Labs. Starling Labs, co-founded by the USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford School of Electrical Engineering, has been at the forefront of ensuring data integrity since 2020. Our conversation delved into their critical work in content authenticity and data integrity, particularly in an era where generative AI and misinformation are growing concerns.

The Mission of Starling Labs

Adam and Lindsay explained Starling Labs' mission, particularly in the context of generative AI. Their work revolves around preserving the authenticity of digital media to combat misinformation and disinformation. They highlighted their "Authenticity by Design" approach, which integrates principles of cryptography and decentralization to ensure the trustworthiness of digital content.

The Origin Story of Starling Labs

Starling Labs was founded by Jonathan Dotan, who brought his experience as a producer on the TV show "Silicon Valley" to the academic world. Inspired by concepts like compression algorithms and decentralization, Jonathan aimed to apply these principles to benefit society. This led to Starling Labs, which now works on preserving important historical and journalistic content.

Key Projects and Impact

One notable project is "78 Days," a collaboration with AP journalists to authenticate photographs during the presidential transition period. This project underscored the importance of documenting truth amidst misinformation, using cryptographic tools to validate the authenticity of digital media.

Another significant effort was the investigation documented in the Rolling Stone story "The DJ and the War Crimes." This project involved authenticating a chilling photograph taken during the Bosnian War. By collaborating with the photographer Ron Haviv and utilizing cryptographic methods, Starling Labs ensured the photograph's integrity and preserved critical historical evidence.

Addressing the Challenges of Video Authenticity

When discussing the complexities of video as a medium, Lindsay highlighted the challenge of tracking changes in videos, which consist of thousands of frames. Unlike photos, videos require meticulous attention to every frame and audio layer to ensure authenticity. Despite these challenges, Starling Labs continues to develop innovative solutions to verify and preserve video content.

The Role of Blockchain and Decentralized Systems

Adam elaborated on the importance of blockchain in creating immutable digital media records. By storing cryptographic fingerprints on multiple blockchains, Starling Labs ensures the longevity and trustworthiness of digital assets. Decentralized systems further enhance resilience against censorship and data loss, providing a robust solution for preserving critical information.

The Future of Content Authenticity

Both Adam and Lindsay envision a future where tools for verifying media authenticity become integral to high-stakes situations, such as journalism and legal proceedings. They emphasized the need for transparency and the importance of educating the public about the significance of these tools.


Our discussion with Starling Labs highlighted the crucial role of content authenticity in today's digital landscape. As misinformation becomes increasingly sophisticated, the work being done by Starling Labs and Livepeer Studio is more critical than ever. We look forward to continuing our collaboration and exploring new ways to ensure the integrity of digital media.

For more information, visit Starling Labs and check out our Livepeer Studio documentation. Stay tuned for more insights and updates on our ongoing projects!

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