Cyborg Navigator
Image from Juan Ochoa

[1] Generic term for any biont (usually but not necessarily sophont) with non-biological augmentations; syn. Cyborged [noun]
[2] Any organism in which the cybernetic interaction between the biological and the abiotic components is an essential part of their functioning; syn. True Cyborg [noun]

Cyborgs are bionts that have been augmented or radically modified with ai or bionics, implants, and/or drytech. Unlike bioborgs, their tech is not self-replicating, so cyborgs generally cannot reproduce without the assistance of external technologies. The exception to this are the are drexborgs (nanocyborgs), who incorporate nano and frequently are, or become, posthuman. Cyborgs are so diverse and individual as to be often beyond categorisation into distinct phyles and clades. Cyborgs can be loosely divided into the cyborged and the true cyborgs. The cyborged are simply bionts with enhancements that are non-essential and were gradually added, while true cyborgs are beings for whom the cybernetic interaction between biology and technology is an essential part. The exact dividing line is hard to draw, but usually it is done when the technology becomes essential for continued life or mental functioning. A few cyborg phyles have a dislike for the flesh, and salvation is seen in the virtuality. As cyborgs age there is a tendency to replace more and more biological components, and in some cases they become indistinguishable from vecs. Many cyborgs go on to become uploads or powers, although others simply choose to explore the endless ramifications of the machine-flesh interface. The number of true cyborgs throughout the galaxy is at least two quadrillion, if not more.

The term Cyborg means "cybernetic organism", "part human, part machine", or "part natural, part artificial" (by adding artificial brain or body implants). Cyborgs represent a third category of sophonts, in addition to the bionts (organics) and artificials or mechanoids (vecs and bots).

The Cyborgs are as far advanced beyond the baseline condition as the superiors, but in a completely different manner. The superiors emphasize biotech and gengineering to enhance their bodily capabilities, the cyborgs bionics, infotech and wetware biochips.

Among the earlier (late Information and Interplanetary Age) cyborgs there was often a dislike for the flesh, the "meat" as the gibsons and some cyber-transhumanists termed it. For their contemporaries the biopunks, the ribo-phunkers and the Genetekkers, salvation lay in the DNA, for the cyborgs in the hardware. They were the natural allies of the AIs, and the first to see godlike status in the post-toposophic hyperturings. With the normals (whether baseline or superior) they had an uneasy and sometimes contemptuous alliance.

Because cyborgs were not grown or reproduced from scratch, but rather each cyborg was the result of an original baseline (or more rarely superior or tweak) human who embarked on a course of self-cyborgization, the 'borgs tended to be an incredibly diverse assemblage. Some went for intellectual enhancement, attaining supergenius levels through biochip implants and wetware programming. These became hackers and crackers, and were always in demand by the megacorps, who used them against rival megacorps (the rival megacorps of course had their own hackers and crackers). Others preferred physical enhancement, developing massive bodies of tremendous strength, and often replacing so much of their organic substrate that - during the early days (the Interplanetary Age and to a lesser extent the early Federation period) they tended to suffer from psychotic breakdown and were put out of their misery by other bounty-hunter or police strike teams (although reports of psychotic cyborgs taking out a whole building of unfortunate impoverished baselines were more often apocryphal than real). Still others developed a religious relationship with the AIs, explored virtual worlds, developed nanotech, or engaged in various other profitable or unprofitable and quixotic pursuits.

Cyborgs can be loosely divided into the cyborged and the true cyborgs. The cyborged are simply biont with enhancements (they are non-essential or gradually added), while true cyborgs are beings where the cybernetic interaction between biology and technology is an essential part. The exact dividing line is hard to draw, but usually it is done when the technology becomes essential for continued life or mental functioning.

Even today, the cyborged, or borgs as they call themselves, remain among the most diverse of all the sapient categories. Most are essentially just built-up bionts (usually nearbaselines or tweaks); hobbyists, performance artists, and body modification enthusiasts. For the average cyborg, being a 'borg is a fashion and cultural statement, and whilst some tribes and clans of borgs like to customize themselves with identical tech, this is considered rather laughable by true enthusiasts of the borg lifestyle

True cyborgs can in turn be divided into many categories depending on forms of cybernetics, design goals and evolutionary/technological origin. The most common division is along technology lines: classical cyborgs (microtech implants), nanocyborgs (nanotechnological systems) and the rarer transapienttech cyborgs. There also exist sytech and biotech cyborgs that integrating living artificial organs. These in turn shade into true bioborgs - cyborgs that only use biological components and which can reproduce like normal bionts.

Although there are a few cyborg clades that have been able to integrate the biological and cybernetic components and hence become true replicators like any biont or neumann, for most reproduction is via cloning and growing a new body, which is then carefully augmented as it develops. Some cyborg clades do not even reproduce, but simply maintain their somatic structure, adding and modifying and replacing as required.

  • Andromeda Kids  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Semi-mythological feral tweak-cyborg hu superbrights who established a number of colonies in the vicinity of Kaypten's Star during the late Federation (early Emergence age) period.
  • Arion Ascendancy, The  - Text by Espen Antonsen
    Hyperexpansionistic interstellar empire in the NoCoZo outer periphery.
  • Autocycler  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Interplanetary Age biont and cyborg ideology and historical-intellectual precursor of the Clesycs, popular among some low resource and minimalist nomads, of using bionano and bacteria to recycle all of one's waste products, without having to even leave one's spacesuit or biosuit.
  • Backgrounders  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    During the dark ages, between 500 and 700, several cyborg communities escaped into the oort cloud from the nanodisaster. Gradually they developed their own culture, the Backgrounder Culture.
  • Biaioid  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A rare form, an aioid cyborging with biology. Vecs, bots and other ai will sometimes add on biological enhancements or organs for various reasons.
  • Borg - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic term for a biont who uses radical bio-organ or cyborg augmentation to modify eir phenotype or body.
  • ClearEye  - Text by John Edds
    An optical sensor that cleans itself by spinning. A common design for vecs, bots, or cyborgs that operate in debris-filled environments.
  • Conver Limis  - Text by Mark Ryherd
    Su-cyborg House which originated within the Conver Ambi.
  • Cybernetics  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Stephen Inniss
    In popular usage, the study of the creation of cyborgs through the use of dryware/hylotech such as mechanical, electronic, and bionic implants, augments, and neuroprostheses. In technical usage, the study of communication and control systems based on regulatory feedback, with application in a number of fields such as sociology, memetics, biology, engineering, artificial intelligence, and information theory.
  • Cybertechnology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The designing and developing of hylotech (dryware) technological enhancements for the biont body and nervous system.
  • Cyborn  - Text by Mike Parisi
    Cyborns in the general sense (as opposed to members of Clade Cyborn) have an organic component that is grown with the express purpose in mind beforehand of being "mated" with its cybernetic component. They are therefore unlike ordinary Cyborgs or Borgs, who typically began life as viable bionts or vecs but later added other components. They often refer to themselves as True Cyborgs. Typically the organic component is "grown into" its cybernetic component. The latter is laid out beforehand and serves as a scaffold for this growth.
  • Cyborn, Clade  - Text by Mike Parisi
    This clade has its origin as part of the Twin Stream faction of the Genomorpher branch of the Genetekkers.
  • Direct Neural Interface Standard (DNIS) - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Neural code standard, used among many near-baseline cyborgs and advanced cyborgs with pidgin lobes.
  • DNI - Text by Stephen Inniss
    An acronym for Direct Neural Interface.
  • Dream Rejection Tendency, The  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Brown dwarfs in the Stellar Umma region supporting a dual civilisation; a virtual cosmos in the databanks, and a human nearbaseline society living outside utilising the waste heat.
  • Dryware - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The non-biological part of a cyborg (c.f. hardware, software and wetware).
  • Electra Entity  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Expansion age nanocyborg activist clade, Pleiades Volume.
  • Endoskeleton (augmentics) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    In some cyborgs, internal non-biological, mechanical, or dryware structure or component, around which the biological components are built or supported.
  • Fastman - Text by Jorge Ditchkenberg
    A biont, usually human, whose goal is to live an otherwise normal life and appearance without eating. Organic compounds of any kind are avoided, and the diet of a person who achieves the fastman ideal consists only of water and perhaps some mineral supplements. Internal nanotech and an internal or external power source are intended to provide all other necessities. See also The Fastman Lifestyle.
  • Gati Hertzsprung-Russell Engineers  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Sun-miner postbiont cyborg clade from the Gati system of the NoCoZo.
  • Hermophromorph - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Erotogenic with genitals and other characteristics of both genders equally developed, especially in an exaggerated or augmented fashion. Alternatively, any being who has so modified emself.
  • Homo economicus  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    NoCoZo cyborg clade specialised towards business.
  • Kockengen, Clade  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    An ancient polysomatic clade with its origins in the Nanoswarms period.530 to 900 AT: The Nanoswarm Age
  • M-Life - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Machinic non-biological life as seen in neumanns, hylonanecologies, and other inorganic organisms or ecologies. In practise M-life, B-life and A-life tend to merge, especially because of the ubiquity of biotech and bionanotech.
  • Metal Monkeys  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Rhesus monkey cyborgs, originally purpose-built with a "slave" mentality to serve a small polity on the Periphery but freed by avatars of Sun Wu K'ung.
  • Multiple - Text by Todd Drashner
    Distributed organic being who uses cybernetic enhancements to distribute a mind across several identical bodies. All experiences and knowledge that each body gains is copied and distributed to all other bodies in real time. The death of any one body, while sometimes painful to the whole, cannot kill the whole.
  • Oia (Here)  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Oia, a predominantly cyborg world at the edge of Sophic League space.
  • Simico  - Text by Tony Jones
    One of, if not the, earliest of the hive-mind clades, made up of self-modified cyborgs.
  • Sing++3 - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Cyborg-ai clade-cluster resident on Dewheat.
  • SunMiner  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Highly derived, cyborgised clade that during the ComEmp and early post-ComEmp periods specialized in star-lifting, acquiring great wealth. Now largely "old money", although still will take on projects, especially if challenging or aesthetic.
  • Transcyborg  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, with comment by David Jackson
    A sophont who has augments and mods that give em limited transapient abilities.
  • Xeon  - Text by Grant Thomas and M. Alan Kazlev
    Aggressive expansionist Outer Volume cyborg empire.
  • Yas om  - Text by A. C. Mt
    A human-like synano cyborg clade.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
additional notes by John B
Initially published on 21 June 2000.