Independent Researcher

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Protocol Labs is a research, development, and deployment institution for improving Internet technology. Protocol Labs leads groundbreaking internet projects, such as IPFS, the decentralized web protocol; Filecoin, a cryptocurrency incentivized storage network; and libp2p, a modular network stack for peer-to-peer apps and systems. Protocol Labs works openly, and is focused on the creation of value at a massive scale.

Job Description

Independent research at Protocol Labs is an opportunity to pursue risky, ambitious projects that further our mission and align with our values and passions. Each effort seeks to solve a problem with huge potential impact that is too ambitious to garner wide initial support. These projects include or have included the economics of open source, the decentralization of energy grids, and the distributed generation and mapping of public knowledge. Independent research projects are an important part of our central mission to improve computation and communication to move humanity forward.
An independent research problem and its intended solution should meet the following criteria:
- The solution promises to impact society in significant, positive ways that are broadly accessible (not limited to those privileged by money, education, or social status).
- Though the problem can be ambitious, it must be tractable, where clear progress toward a solution can be measured.
- It should be aligned with the overall mission of Protocol Labs, contributing to a vision of the future made better through technological improvements rooted in computing and communication.
We invest significant time and resources supporting our independent researchers and their projects and, therefore, do not bring them on lightly.

As an Independent Researcher at Protocol Labs you will...

    • Define and map out an ambitious research project and be able to clearly articulate its potential impact on the world, as well as its relationship to the mission and goals of Protocol Labs Research.
    • Identify and pursue specific goals and milestones pertaining to your project.
    • Create prototypes, drafts, or proofs of concept to test and demonstrate research outcomes.
    • Communicate your work to the research community and build collaborations inside and outside PL.
    • Participate in collaborative conversations with other independent researchers and help define the future of research at PL.
    • Participate in regular remote lab meetings, attend quarterly colocated retreats with other independent researchers and management, and have regular one-on-one calls with a research lead.
    • Work in an asynchronous and fully remote team.

You may be a fit for this role if you have...

    • The ability to work independently and reach key milestones with minimal supervision.
    • A mission-driven focus on having a significant impact on the world through technological advancement, complemented by a stubborn optimism for the future.
    • An ability to pursue unconventional lines of questioning when identifying problems and exploring solutions.

Bonus points if you have...

    • Master’s or PhD in a scientific or technical field (or equivalent experience).
    • A history of independent research achievement, including but not limited to developing solutions that garnered adoption or recognition among interested experts (this could be patents, awards, or honors, or having been a founding CTO or significant driver for a well-known product).
    • One or more notable accomplishments or discoveries that have dramatically altered the direction of a research lab, organization, or field.
How to apply for this position:
Submit a CV of no more than 2 pages, a project summary statement of no more than one hundred words, and answers to the following two prompts:
1. Describe the current state of the problem (five hundred words or less).
2. Define your approach to addressing or solving the problem (five hundred words or less).
Get us excited about the work you want to pursue, convince us of its importance, and then convince us that you are the right person for the job.
Note: Under the right circumstances, we would consider taking on a small team of 2-3 researchers working on a significant and exciting project. If you are applying as a team, only one proposal needs to be submitted. Please attach the CVs of all team members as a single PDF.
What’s it like to work at Protocol Labs?
Protocol Labs mission is to improve humanity’s most important technology, the Internet. We build protocols, systems, and tools to improve how it works. Today, we are focused on how we store, locate, and move information. Our projects include IPFS, Filecoin, libp2p, and more.
As a distributed team, we hire anywhere in the world, and at various levels of experience (entry, senior, staff). We look for people with unique perspectives and diverse backgrounds.
We have a great benefits package, including parental leave, contributions to your retirement, competitive pay, and unlimited time off. For U.S.-based employees, we also provide platinum-level health, dental, and vision coverage for you and your family.
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51 applications
Posted on May 19, 2020

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