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Labs that Close the Gap

blackbox Lab

The blackbox Lab explores the promise of data, digital, and design with respect to contemporary understandings of blackness and business in digital space, products, services, and market platforms.

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The blackbox Lab is an intellectual community of interdisciplinary scholars engaged in grounded theory building while providing thought-partnership with organizations in cultural production, platform design, and AI approaches to value creation.

We ask: 

  • What drives the value construction processes in digital market platforms?
  • Is there a relationship between identity, culture, data, design, and digital-technological innovation?
  • How can digital design labs appeal to creators, producers, and companies within black communities?
  • What are the key challenges and opportunities facing black communities, businesses, professionals, and entrepreneurs pursuing the design, development, and deployment of market platforms?


The blackbox Lab is led by: 

  • James W. Riley, Assistant Professor of Business Administration. He is an economic sociologist with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Activities/Research Focus

The blackbox Lab’s mission is to focus is on the role of data, design, and digital transformation that takes aim at leapfrogging historic inequities.

The Lab will generate knowledge assets such as: 

  • Empirical research papers aimed at peer-reviewed journals.
  • Shareable data on market design, platform strategies, the application of AI, and algorithmic machine learning.
  • Case sourcing with a focus on organizations, professionals, and entrepreneurs who use AI and machine learning tools.
  • Events capturing academic-industry keynotes, panels, workshops, and conferences that touch on the key themes of the Lab.
  • Relationships with active alums to promote learning and application from this research stream.
  • Partnerships with companies and external collaborators by providing a common ground for inter-disciplinary dialogue.