Dawn of Disruption board game teaches players about how to make money from AI

Featured image: Dean Furman (Supplied)

We all know or have an inkling of an idea of what artificial intelligence (AI) is, but do you know what your company or business could use it for?

SA innovation expert and futurist Dean Furman has launched Dawn of Disruption, a board-game that teaches players about the theoretical uses of AI, including the technology’s profit-boosting applications.

Furman’s game shares real-life examples of how AI is being used, as well as case studies of companies that can supply the technology. He claims the gamified learning delivers return on investment as learnings can be applied straight away.

Furman says it took him about four months to develop Dawn of Disruption

Although the game is not available for purchase in stores, Furman is offering it to companies and incubators on a “train the trainer” basis with licensing costs that are dependent on the number of people at each respective institution.

He said he has no plans to make it openly available in stores as the main lessons of the game come through in a facilitated environment.

“But, time will tell. At the moment, it is a tool that is being used by myself and my ecosystem of experts. We will be offering this at companies, incubators, and schools — with a slightly different emphasis depending on the group,” he said.

Earlier this month, Furman conducted a kick-off session with a group from Absa which he said went “amazingly well”.

“The vibe was great, and I lost count of the number of times, players said something like ‘Wow, that’s cool’ or ‘Phew, that’s interesting’. The most important validation came from the fact that a number of extra sessions to play the game were booked,” he said.

Furman has run sessions of the game with the SA African Institute of Accountants (Saica), with a major bank having booked multiple sessions this month, along with companies from other industries.

He claims one of the world’s largest team building companies — which he did not name — has already expressed interest to take the game globally. “I am still deciding if this move makes sense for me, but it is flattering,” he said.

‘Hot topic’

He said he got the idea for the games concept last year while going around the country holding keynote talks and masterclasses with some of South Africa’s top companies. In all, it took him four months to develop the game.

“People have limited concentration spans and I wanted to practice what I preached and design something totally innovative that had never been done before.

“I challenged the way that many were being taught about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and innovation and felt there was something missing,” he explained.

Furman said he was shocked at how many companies were teaching general employees in depth about the algorithms and methodologies behind various AI models.

He said it was more important for most to understand what can be done through machine learning and other AI methods than the underlying algorithms.

“This is equivalent to teaching a learner driver, about how an engine works. This is important for mechanics but not as important for those looking to get from A to B,” he explained.

Furman believes too many “great orators” are latching onto this “hot topic” of disruptive innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution and providing great inspiration, but without any depth that can be used by those listening to make a practical difference to their businesses or lives.

“Executives and founders often stream to large, glitzy events to hear some mind-blowing information but then go back to their desks after a super day out without being able to use the information to move the needle in their businesses,” he said.

The game, Furman claims, lets players see first hand how different professions are being disrupted by AI..

“In the game, players will inevitably understand this more deeply as they disrupt their fellow players’ professionals using specific artificial intelligence cards,” he explained.

‘Research an eye-opener’

Furman, who claims to be a subject expert on AI, says he had to search “high and low” for new creative uses of the technology that he had not about before to build into the game.

“The research was even an eye-opener for me. I have yet to find any other resource that provides such a holistic view of what is being done with AI globally all in one place,” he said.

But why resort to a board game rather than a digital channel to gamify learning on a concept like artificial intelligence? Furman said this was by design, as he wanted to make this learning accessible to all and to be played in a tactile fashion.

Furman believes that people getting together, connecting, learning and laughing without digital distractions is the right setting to learn to understand this new digital business-enabler.

Featured image: Dean Furman (Supplied)

Daniel Mpala


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