Are you a programmer? Do you like money? If you answered yes to both of those questions, pay attention: here’s your chance to do the first thing and win a whole lot of the latter stuff.

Joburg-based software development company Entelect is on the lookout for new employees, but, instead of giving lots of money to boring recruitment agencies, they want to give that money to YOU – all R100,000 of it! Well, maybe not you specifically, but to the one person who can crack their challenge. What is that challenge, you ask? Entelect wants you to build an AI. No, not the world domination sort, this is a gaming AI that can compete in a game of Tron-style Light Cycles against other artificial intelligences. There’s no guarantee that you’ll land yourself a job with Entelect, but at the very least, the winner gets to take home that huge prize and, we’re sure, an even bigger sense of accomplishment.

The competition will pit entrants’ AIs against each other in a series of battles over a period of a few weeks, and then the finals will be held at our very own rAge Expo, live, in front of thousands of screaming fans. Be the rock star you want to see in the world!

Now that you’re fired up and super interested, here’s what you need to do: head over to challenge.entelect.co.za and read those rules more thoroughly than you’ve ever read anything in your life. There’s a lot to take in and we won’t dare try to summarise it here because, well, we’ll probably get it wrong (we’re more comfortable with playing games than making them).

Entries close on the 24th of September, so get cracking!

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We spoke with Timothy Kroon, general manager of resourcing at Entelect, to get a little more info on this huge undertaking.

NAG: Entelect is a software development company, why use AI development as the criteria for this competition?

Timothy Kroon: Our core skill at Entelect software is problems solving. Technologies are a transient commodity in the software industry and so when it comes to identifying top talent we really believe that smart people make smart developers. Artificial Intelligence really is an exciting arena in computer science. It’s both a creative and an intellectual challenge and we believe this will unearth some really talented individuals

NAG: Why Light Cycles?

TK: Our original idea for the competition was to make it a simple turn-based game, we didn’t want to exclude people without any experience in AI We want the competition to be inclusive for people at all levels. The Tron Light Cycles game seemed like a great fit since it’s culturally appropriate (we all loved that game!) and fits the criteria for our simple turn based game.

NAG: Is this secretly the start of Entelect’s first step into game development?

TK: Well, everything is possible 🙂

NAG: How is the R100,000 prize split, if at all?

TK: The Grand Prize will not be split – the champion will take home the R100,000 cash prize. The runner up will take home a brand new X-Box with accessories and games. All finalists will get free entry for the entire weekend at rAge Expo.

NAG: Can entrants work in teams?

TK: While we certainly encourage consultation with peers or guidance of any kind, we have decided against team based entries. We believe this will encourage a fair competition for all individuals involved.

NAG: Entelect has a history of employing only highly-qualified people. Could someone without formal qualifications enter this competition? What about school pupils?

TK: Absolutely. There is no academic or age prerequisite to enter the R100K Challenge. While a familiarity with AI techniques will be to your advantage, we encourage everyone to take a shot at the challenge. You never know how far you’ll get!

NAG: While not guaranteed, let’s say the winner is offered a job at Entelect: what sort of work could they expect to do?

TK: What we value the most at Entelect is an attitude of self-motivation, creativity, transparency and the ability to think on your feet. We deliver systems to a variety of critical industries based on cutting edge technologies and methods. This environment naturally attracts the best individuals who are passionate about software & technology. You’ll be expected to learn, grow, teach and get involved in improving Entelect. It’s an exciting environment and the best place to be if your goal is to become the best developer you can be.