Lessons Learned from “Lost in Space” on Netflix

Being a developer has similarities to the life of a family surviving in space. Sure, the stakes are lower when writing code versus being chased by alien life forms, but the core idea is the same. One is faced with a problem and it must be solved, with varying degrees of consequences for failure.

I enjoyed watching the Robinsons solve problem after problem to stay alive in alien worlds and the vacuum of space. I believe you can learn from anything. So in that spirit, here are some lessons from the show for us problem solving humans:

  1. tayrobDon’t panic when you’re in trouble. A cool head is vitally important to your survival chances when you’re in a bind. Judy demonstrates this quality in evading the raptor-like creatures chasing her.
  2. Problems solved often lead to more problems to solve. We would be wise to anticipate what might happen if we do succeed.
  3. Be cautious when venturing into unfamiliar territories. You never know what could be there to trip you up. Which leads me to my next point…
  4. Respect nature’s ability to f*ck you up. The environment you’re in, other organisms, and bacteria can wreak havoc. Despite our perceived self-importance, nature is our god. We are but specks in its creation. Cases in point: the metal-dissolving virus that destroys Judy’s chariot and the poisonous algae Don accidentally discovers that immobilizes him.
  5. Know when to go for broke, or when to re-group and wait to make your next move. The Robinsons spent 7 months stocking up at their new beach home. Until they suffered a setback…beach
  6. Adapt your plan when new information becomes available or unexpected events happen. They will happen.
  7. Think of unconventional ways to use the resources you do have to fix the problem at hand. Who would have thought a spaceship could be retrofitted into a boat?
  8. Things often work 83% of the way you expect them to work. Sometimes that’s enough to move on. Or maybe it buys you enough time to figure out your next move. The electrical field stalled the fleet of robots long enough for the Robinsons to realize the children should “Lord of the Flies” their way to Alpha Centauri.
  9. Question your own motivations, and be open to changing course if you are wrong. Adler realized he should help Will save Scarecrow’s life after first trying to stop him. Scarecrow then exhibits this same quality when he turns against his robot comrades to save the children.
  10. Ethics and morals may conflict with each other. Was Maureen Robinson wrong for fraudulently saving her son Will? Ethically, yes. But morally, as a mother saving her son? No.
  11. Make time for your family and friends. Maureen was so busy saving the family that she didn’t read Penny’s book. Stop and smell the roses every once in a while. Or read your daughter’s damn book.
  12. Humans are capable of both great compassion and horrible cruelty. We’re running from alien robots, but sometimes we’re the monsters? Cough cough Smith and Hastings… cough. Excuse me. (smh 🤦)
  13. robotI’ll spare you any parallels about modern artificial intelligence. The best, most grounded definition I’ve heard of modern AI is “automated cognition“.
  14. Self-sacrifice is an honorable death to save the lives of others, but can be frustrating to watch on TV. “Did you really have to kill yourself there?” – me, several times during the show 😆

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