The Kobayashi Maru


The Cog by G

The Cog by G



The Kobayashi Maru is a geek reference from Star Trek. At Star Fleet academy, cadets destined for command are given a no-win scenario which is used to assess their character and quality. As the Star Trek canon goes, you, the commander of a starship, get a distress signal from the Kobayashi Maru, a freighter, which has hit a gravitic mine. The ship is in distress within the Neutral Zone, a kind of 23rd century DMZ, and entering it would be construed by the Klingons as an act of war. It’s a setup -if you attempt rescue, you are immediately set upon by a fleet of Klingon ships. 

Kirk is famous for declaring “there is no no-win situation” and is famous for having “won” the Kobayashi Maru simulation while at Star Fleet Academy by reprogramming the computer-based Klingons to have fear of “The Captain Kirk.” He cheated, but was commended for original thinking.

It is a truism that in the end you die. In that respect, life is a very long Kobayashi Maru scenario, a no-win situation where the end is known. You can’t escape, you can’t win. But that isn’t the point of Kobayashi Maru. It is how you conduct yourself as the ship goes down -are you helping people onto the lifeboats or are you elbowing people out of the way to get on one?

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