Lost in Space


"The Robot"

Plot Summary of the work you are examining:

Lost in Space was a network television show that aired September 15, 1965. The series enjoyed three full television seasons on CBS -- from 1965-1968. It was the first ongoing television space adventure to last more than a season on the air (The Original Star Trek began airing the following year).

The show's storyline was centered on the Robinson Family, who on October 16, 1997, planned were on a five-year mission aboard the space shuttle Jupiter 2 to explore a planet in the Alpha Centauri system, with the hope that it could be colonized. Just before liftoff, Dr. Zachary Smith (an enemy government spy and intergalactic doctor) schemes to destroy the spacecraft. But unfortunately for him, his plan backfires, and he becomes trapped on board. Smith accidentally destroys the Jupiter 2's guidance system and all of the people on board become lost in space.

What is its role/function? Why was it created?

The example of robotics to be explored here is simply referred to by humans as "The Robot". The Robot with programmed with 3 primary directives:


How human is it? Was it meant to be human?

The Robot was not meant to be human. Considering The Robot in terms of a grand scale that would range from factory machinery, all the way to sophisticated android, The Robot would be on the upper scale, but would still be relatively basic in design and function.


How does it interact with human society? What are the reactions of humans to it?

For the most part, The Robot is treated as a tool; but while alone in the solitary confines of space, even a tool can become a trusted friend. The Robinson children exhibit a closer and more intimate bond with The Robot than the adults, but all realize the great advantage they have by being lost in space with a capable robot. Only the evil Dr. Smith attempts to use The Robot against the Robinson family. In the third episode of the first season entitled "Island in the Sky", Dr Smith makes plans to sabatoge John's parajet, and while the others are looking for the stranded John, Dr Smith intended to head back to Earth with The Robot. Smith programs the The Robot to kill any member of the Robinson family, fortunately the Robinsons stop Mr. Smith from completing his devious plan.


What are the consequences of its existence within the context of the work?

In Lost in Space, The Robot was used as a tool and machine, but also as a companion. On the scale of robot evolution, The Robot was definitely working its way up to the top. People weren't taking its mechanized skills for granted, treating it as a slave for work to be shunted off on. The Robot truly became a functioning and valuable part of their (albeit )limited society.


What is its influence on the notion of robots? Did it introduce any new ideas?

The Robot introduced the idea of a machine as a friend and companion. The humans on the show came to know and love their Robot, and as it protected them, they defended it. This idea may not have been new in the realm of science fiction robotics, but for a television premiere, straying from the tride and true fall back of evil robots who attempt to take over the world was a great leap of faith--and a succesful one.

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Links for further study:

Robot Puzzle

Lost in Space Website