Hard Cases Make Bad Algorithms, a Prologue

David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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9 Responses

  1. James K says:

    It’s hard to go wrong with the Wrath of Kahn, although I never got the point of the Kobayashi Maru – why prepare your officers for death in battle, when its something they’ll have to do once at the most? And no matter how they do it, they’ll end up dead shortly thereafter?Report

    • greginak in reply to James K says:

      Well they still need to preform well in the face of impending death. A captain might be able to save some of his crew or his/her ship while staring death in the face or even through his/her own death.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to James K says:

      Thing is, when officers order troops to advance into fire, they can only lead by example. It’s by no means certain who’s going to live or die. You can win or lose wars, or reach some stalemate but there’s no winning or losing in such engagements. It’s about who stays and who leaves, who has the drop on whom, which risks are worth taking and which result only in fruitless sacrifices. And there’s luck involved, both good and bad. For every D-Day Landing there’s a Hurtgen Forest.Report

    • North in reply to James K says:

      I’m with Greginak. How you deal with the no win situation is important. There’re bad outcomes and there’re less bad outcomes. Being able to salvage the less bad out of the no win scenario without succumbing to despair or berserking would be an enormous asset for an officer on a star ship.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to James K says:

      The Kobayashi Maru scenario isn’t necessarily fatal. Rather it’s a test that deals with a situation that’s impossible to solve without violating one of several conditions.

      There’s some references to how other members of the Enterprise crew handle it. For example, Sulu decides not to violate the Neutral Zone and instead writes a personalized letter to the family members of the crew and passengers of the Kobayashi Maru.

      And contra 2009’s Star Trek, IIRC Kirk originally cheated by making it so the Klingons would fear and respect his name, thereby letting him and the freighter go without firing a shot.Report

    • Steve S. in reply to James K says:

      It’s a plot device, in that it sets us up for the revelation of Kirk’s cheating death In the KM scenario, and later on when he can’t cheat at Spock’s death (though they eventually cheated that, too, with another weaselly plot device). I realize I’m treading on thin ice by suggesting that a piece of the Star Trek canon should best be understood as mere dramatic artifice.Report

  2. James B Franks says:

    The purpose behind the scenario is not to prepare you for death, it is a test of character. What will you do and why do you do it?Report

  3. Cadet Kirk says:

    What will you do and why do you do it?

    1.) Cheat.
    2.) To win.
    3.) Duh.

    Now, where’s that green chick with the Romulan Ale?! WOOOOOO!Report