In the Appleseed universe, the term "cyborg" is often used to describe a sentient or conscious being, almost exclusively human in origin, that now relies on a great deal of machinery or unnatural devices to remain alive. One notable example is Briareos, a forty-year old human male who suffered massive injuries during a world war, and was saved from imminent death by grafting a quarter of his original body onto three quarters of a bio-mechanical Hecatonchires-class cyborg body. Another less extreme patient of so-called cyberization is Manuel Aeacus, who following serious head trauams, regained hearing and vision in the left side of his head via cybernetic vision and ear implants.

As bio-technology is supposedly fairly commonplace in Appleseed's 2120s timeframe, most cyborgs utilize materials and components that are in some way bioidentical, or considered by the human immune system to be natural extensions of its own biology, thus eliminating the need for anti-rejection drugs. Artificial muscle is highly developed by this time as well, resulting in muscular and humanoid cyborg designs that behave akin to organic humans.

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A cyborg, also known as a cybernetic organism, is a being with both biological and artificial (e.g. electronic, mechanical or robotic) parts. The term was coined in 1960 when Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline used it in an article about the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space.[1] D. S. Halacy's Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman in 1965 featured an introduction which spoke of a "new frontier" that was "not merely space, but more profoundly the relationship between 'inner space' to 'outer space'
-a bridge...between mind and matter."[2] The cyborg is often seen today merely as an organism that has enhanced abilities due to technology,[3] but this perhaps oversimplifies the category of feedback.

Fictional cyborgs are portrayed as a synthesis of organic and synthetic parts, and frequently pose the question of difference between human and machine as one concerned with morality, free will, and empathy. Fictional cyborgs may be represented as visibly mechanical (e.g. the Cybermen in the Doctor Who franchise or The Borg from Star Trek; or as almost indistinguishable from humans (e.g. the Terminators from the Terminator films, the Cylons from the Battlestar Galactica etc.) The 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man featured one of the most famous fictional cyborgs. Cyborgs in fiction often play up a human contempt for over-dependence on technology, particularly when used for war, and when used in ways that seem to threaten free will. Cyborgs are also often portrayed with physical or mental abilities far exceeding a human counterpart (military forms may have inbuilt weapons, among other things).

Real (as opposed to fictional) cyborgs are more frequently people who use cybernetic technology to repair or overcome the physical and mental constraints of their bodies. While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, they might conceivably be any kind of organism.


According to some definitions of the term, the metaphysical and physical attachments humanity has with even the most basic technologies have already made them cyborgs.[4] In a typical example, a human fitted with a heart pacemaker or an insulin pump (if the person has diabetes) might be considered a cyborg, since these mechanical parts enhance the body's "natural" mechanisms through synthetic feedback mechanisms. Some theorists cite such modifications as contact lenses, hearing aids, or intraocular lenses as examples of fitting humans with technology to enhance their biological capabilities; however, these modifications are no more cybernetic than would be a pen or a wooden leg. Cochlear implants that combine mechanical modification with any kind of feedback response are more accurately cyborg enhancements.

The term is also used to address human-technology mixtures in the abstract. This includes artifacts that may not popularly be considered technology; for example, pen and paper, and speech and language. Augmented with these technologies, and connected in communication with people in other times and places, a person becomes capable of much more than they were before. This is like computers, which gain power by using Internet protocols to connect with other computers. Cybernetic technologies include highways, pipes, electrical wiring, buildings, electrical plants, libraries, and other infrastructure that we hardly notice, but which are critical parts of the cybernetics that we work within.

Bruce Sterling in his universe of Shaper/Mechanist suggested an idea of alternative cyborg called Lobster, which is made not by using internal implants, but by using an external shell (e.g. a Powered Exoskeleton).[5] Unlike human cyborgs that appear human externally while being synthetic internally, a Lobster looks inhuman externally but contains a human internally. The computer game Deus Ex: Invisible War prominently featured cyborgs called Omar, where "Omar" is a Russian translation of the word "Lobster" (since the Omar are of Russian origin in the game).


The concept of a man-machine mixture was widespread in science fiction before World War II. As early as 1843, Edgar Allan Poe described a man with extensive prostheses in the short story "The Man That Was Used Up". In 1908, Jean de la Hire introduced Nyctalope (perhaps the first true superhero was also the first literary cyborg) in the novel L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre Dans L'eau (The Man Who Can Live in the Water). Edmond Hamilton presented space explorers with a mixture of organic and machine parts in his novel The Comet Doom in 1928. He later featured the talking, living brain of an old scientist, Simon Wright, floating around in a transparent case, in all the adventures of his famous hero, Captain Future. In the short story "No Woman Born" in 1944, C. L. Moore wrote of Deirdre, a dancer, whose body was burned completely and whose brain was placed in a faceless but beautiful and supple mechanical body.

The term was coined by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline in 1960 to refer to their conception of an enhanced human being who could survive in extraterrestrial environments:

For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term ‘Cyborg'. Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline[6]

Their concept was the outcome of thinking about the need for an intimate relationship between human and machine as the new frontier of space exploration was beginning to take place. A designer of physiological instrumentation and electronic data-processing systems, Clynes was the chief research scientist in the Dynamic Simulation Laboratory at Rockland State Hospital in New York.

The term first appears in print five months earlier when The New York Times reported on the Psychophysiological Aspects of Space Flight Symposium where Clynes and Kline first presented their paper.

A cyborg is essentially a man-machine system in which the control mechanisms of the human portion are modified externally by drugs or regulatory devices so that the being can live in an environment different from the normal one.[7]

A book titled Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable computer was published by Doubleday in 2001. Some of the ideas in the book were incorporated into the 35mm motion picture film Cyberman.

Individual cyborgs[]

Neil Harbisson is sometimes claimed to be a cyborg.[8]]]
Generally, the term "cyborg" is used to refer to a human with bionic, or robotic, implants.

In current prosthetic applications, the C-Leg system developed by Otto Bock HealthCare is used to replace a human leg that has been amputated because of injury or illness. The use of sensors in the artificial C-Leg aids in walking significantly by attempting to replicate the user's natural gait, as it would be prior to amputation.[9] Prostheses like the C-Leg and the more advanced iLimb are considered by some to be the first real steps towards the next generation of real-world cyborg applications. Additionally cochlear implants and magnetic implants which provide people with a sense that they would not otherwise have had can additionally be thought of as creating cyborgs.

In 2002, under the heading Project Cyborg, a British scientist, Kevin Warwick, had an array of 100 electrodes fired in to his nervous system in order to link his nervous system into the Internet. With this in place he successfully carried out a series of experiments including extending his nervous system over the Internet to control a robotic hand, a loudspeaker and amplifier. This is a form of extended sensory input and the first direct electronic communication between the nervous systems of two humans.[10]

In 2004, under the heading Bridging the Island of the Colourblind Project, a British and completely colorblind artist, Neil Harbisson, started wearing an eyeborg on his head in order to hear colors.[11] His prosthetic device was included within his passport photograph which has been claimed to confirm his cyborg status.[12]

Social cyborgs[]

More broadly, the full term "cybernetic organism" is used to describe larger networks of communication and control. For example, cities, networks of roads, networks of software, corporations, markets, governments, and the collection of these things together. A corporation can be considered as an artificial intelligence that makes use of replaceable human components to function. People at all ranks can be considered replaceable agents of their functionally intelligent government institutions, whether such a view is desirable or not. The example above is reminiscent of the "organic paradigm" popular in the late 19th century due to the era's breakthroughs in understanding of cellular biology.

Jaap van Till tries to quantify this effect with his Synthecracy Network Law: V ~ N !, where V is value and N is number of connected people. This factorial growth is what he claims leads to a herd or hive like thinking between large, electronically connected groups.

Cyborg proliferation in society[]

In medicine[]

In medicine, there are two important and different types of cyborgs: these are the restorative and the enhanced. Restorative technologies “restore lost function, organs, and limbs”.[13] The key aspect of restorative cyborgization is the repair of broken or missing processes to revert to a healthy or average level of function. There is no enhancement to the original faculties and processes that were lost.

On the contrary, the enhanced cyborg “follows a principle, and it is the principle of optimal performance: maximising output (the information or modifications obtained) and minimising input (the energy expended in the process) ”.[14] Thus, the enhanced cyborg intends to exceed normal processes or even gain new functions that were not originally present.

Although prostheses in general supplement lost or damaged body parts with the integration of a mechanical artifice, bionic implants in medicine allow model organs or body parts to mimic the original function more closely. Michael Chorost wrote a memoir of his experience with cochlear implants, or bionic ear, titled "Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human." [15] Jesse Sullivan became one of the first people to operate a fully robotic limb through a nerve-muscle graft, enabling him a complex range of motions beyond that of previous prosthetics.[16] By 2004, a fully functioning artificial heart was developed.[17] The continued technological development of bionic and nanotechnologies begins to raise the question of enhancement, and of the future possibilities for cyborgs which surpass the original functionality of the biological model. The ethics and desirability of "enhancement prosthetics" have been debated; their proponents include the transhumanist movement, with its belief that new technologies can assist the human race in developing beyond its present, normative limitations such as aging and disease, as well as other, more general incapacities, such as limitations on speed, strength, endurance, and intelligence. Opponents of the concept describe what they believe to be biases which propel the development and acceptance of such technologies; namely, a bias towards functionality and efficiency that may compel assent to a view of human people which de-emphasizes as defining characteristics actual manifestations of humanity and personhood, in favor of definition in terms of upgrades, versions, and utility.[18]

A brain-computer interface, or BCI, provides a direct path of communication from the brain to an external device, effectively creating a cyborg. Research of Invasive BCIs, which utilize electrodes implanted directly into the grey matter of the brain, has focused on restoring damaged eyesight in the blind and providing functionality to paralyzed people, most notably those with severe cases, such as Locked-In syndrome. This technology could enable people who are missing a limb or are in a wheelchair the power to control the devices that aide them through neural signals sent from the brain implants directly to computers or the devices. It is possible that this technology will also eventually be used with healthy people also.[19]

Retinal implants are another form of cyborgization in medicine. The theory behind retinal stimulation to restore vision to people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and vision loss due to aging (conditions in which people have an abnormally low amount of ganglion cells) is that the retinal implant and electrical stimulation would act as a substitute for the missing ganglion cells (cells which connect the eye to the brain.)

While work to perfect this technology is still being done, there have already been major advances in the use of electronic stimulation of the retina to allow the eye to sense patterns of light. A specialized camera is worn by the subject, such as on the frames of their glasses, which converts the image into a pattern of electrical stimulation. A chip located in the user’s eye would then electrically stimulate the retina with this pattern by exciting certain nerve endings which transmit the image to the optic centers of the brain and the image would then appear to the user. If technological advances proceed as planned this technology may be used by thousands of blind people and restore vision to most of them.

A similar process has been created to aide people who have lost their vocal cords. This experimental device would do away with previously used robotic sounding voice simulators. The transmission of sound would start with a surgery to redirect the nerve that controls the voice and sound production to a muscle in the neck, where a nearby sensor would be able to pick up its electrical signals. The signals would then move to a processor which would control the timing and pitch of a voice simulator. That simulator would then vibrate producing a multitonal sound which could be shaped into words by the mouth.[20]

In the military[]

Military organizations' research has recently focused on the utilization of cyborg animals for inter-species relationships for the purposes of a supposed tactical advantage. DARPA has announced its interest in developing "cyborg insects" to transmit data from sensors implanted into the insect during the pupal stage. The insect's motion would be controlled from a MEMS, or Micro-Electro-Mechanical System, and would conceivably surveil an environment and detect explosives or gas.[21] Similarly, DARPA is developing a neural implant to remotely control the movement of sharks. The shark's unique senses would be exploited to provide data feedback in relation to enemy ship movement and underwater explosives.[22]

In 2009 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Micro-electronic mechanical systems (MEMS) conference in Italy, researchers demonstrated the “first wireless flying-insect cyborg.” [23] Engineers at the University of California at Berkeley pioneered the design of a “remote controlled beetle,” funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).Videographic evidence of this can be viewed here.

The success of the Beetle Borg has sparked an onslaught of research and the creation of a program called Hybrid Insect MEMS or HI-MEMS. The goal for HI-MEMS, according to DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office, is to develop “tightly coupled machine-insect interfaces by placing micro-mechanical systems inside the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis.[24]

Eventually researchers plan to develop HI-MEMS for dragonflies, moths, beetles, bees, sharks, rats, and even pigeons.[25] “The intimate control of insects with embedded microsystems will enable insect cyborgs, which could carry one or more sensors, such as a microphone or a gas sensor, to relay back information gathered from the target destination.” [26]

For the HI-MEMS cybernetic bug to be considered a success, it must fly 100 meters from a starting point, guided via computer into a controlled landing within 5 meters of a specific end point. Once landed, the cybernetic bug must remain in place.[27]

In art[]

The concept of the cyborg is often associated with science fiction. However, many artists have tried to create public awareness of cybernetic organisms; these can range from paintings to installations. Some artists who create such works are Neil Harbisson, Patricia Piccinini, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Steve Mann, Orlan, H.R. Giger, Lee Bul, Tim Hawkinson and Stelarc.

Stelarc is a performance artist who has visually probed and acoustically amplified his body. He uses medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, virtual reality systems, the Internet and biotechnology to explore alternate, intimate and involuntary interfaces with the body. He has made three films of the inside of his body and has performed with a third hand and a virtual arm. Between 1976-1988 he completed 25 body suspension performances with hooks into the skin. For 'Third Ear' he surgically constructed an extra ear within his arm that was internet enabled, making it an publicly accessible acoustical organ for people in other places.[28] He is presently performing as his avatar from his second life site.[29]

Tim Hawkinson promotes the idea that bodies and machines are coming together as one, where human features are combined with technology to create the Cyborg. Hawkinson's piece Emoter presented how society is now dependent on technology.[30]

Machines are becoming more ubiquitous in the artistic process itself, with computerized drawing pads replacing pen and paper, and drum machines becoming nearly as popular as human drummers. This is perhaps most notable in generative art and music. Composers such as Brian Eno have developed and utilized software which can build entire musical scores from a few basic mathematical parameters.[31]

In popular culture[]

Cyborgs have become a well-known part of science fiction literature and other media. Examples of fictional biologically based cyborgs include Spartans from Halo, RoboCop, Replicants, The Teen Titans' Cyborg (Victor Stone), Star Trek's Borg and Star Wars' Darth Vader as well as Luke Skywalker and General Grievous and Steve Austin's The Six Million Dollar Man. Mechanically based cyborgs include Cylons, Terminators, Grox, Snatchers, and various manga and anime characters such as 8 Man, Kamen Rider, many Fullmetal Alchemist characters such as Edward Elric, along with several Dragon Ball characters including Dr. Gero, Android 17, Android 18 and Android 20.

The Cyborg in Feminist Theory[]

A key text in feminist-cyborg studies is A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, first published in 1991 by Donna Haraway. According to Haraway, we are all cyborgs. The figure of the cyborg is invoked as a representation of the “boundary ruptures” in the late twentieth century that influence issues such as embodiment, identity and desire. Haraway employs the metaphor of the cyborg as a means of understanding and navigating one’s place in a rapidly ever-changing techno-scientific world as well as challenging what it means to be human. The figure of the cyborg is also used to encompass the category of “women of color” because of their intersecting identities based on race and gender. Haraway situates her cyborg in a “post-gender” world, but other feminist theorists, such as Kaye Mitchell, have refuted this claim and argue that it is not possible to become “unsexed”.


  1. "Cyborgs and Space [1]," in Astronautics (September 1960), by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline.
  2. D. S. Halacy, Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1965), 7.
  3. Technology as extension of human functional architecture by Alexander Chislenko
  4. A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century by Donna Haraway
  5. Sterling, Bruce. Schismatrix. Arbor House. 1985.
  6. Manfred E. Clynes, and Nathan S. Kline, (1960) "Cyborgs and space," Astronautics, September, pp. 26-27 and 74-75; reprinted in Gray, Mentor, and Figueroa-Sarriera, eds., The Cyborg Handbook, New York: Routledge, 1995, pp. 29-34. (hardback: ISBN 0-415-90848-5; paperback: ISBN 0-415-90849-3)
  7. OED On-line
  8. *Miah, Andy / Rich, Emma. The medicalization of cyberspace, Routledge (New York, 2008). p.130 ISBN 978-0-415-37622-8
    *Brooks, Richard. "Colour-blind artist learns to paint by hearing", The Sunday Times, 24 February 2008.
    *Ingram, Jay. Daily Planet. The Ultimate Book of Everyday Science, Penguin (Canada, 2010). p.1 & p.232-235 ISBN 978-0-143-17786-9
    *Gordon, Bryony. "Eyes opened to sound of socks", The Daily Telegraph, 12 January 2005.
    *Alfredo M. Ronchi: Eculture: Cultural Content in the Digital Age. Springer (New York, 2009). p.319 ISBN 978-3-540-75273-8
    *"La veo en blanco y negro pero la oigo en colores", La Contra de La Vanguardia, 10 July 2010.
    *"Cyborgs and Stem Cells", Research TV, 18 January 2005
  9. Otto Bock HealthCare : a global leader in healthcare products | Otto Bock
  10. Warwick, K, Gasson, M, Hutt, B, Goodhew, I, Kyberd, P, Schulzrinne, H and Wu, X: “Thought Communication and Control: A First Step using Radiotelegraphy”, IEE Proceedings on Communications, 151(3), pp.185-189, 2004
  11. Alfredo M. Ronchi: Eculture: Cultural Content in the Digital Age. Springer (New York, 2009). p.319 ISBN 978-3-540-75273-8
  12. Andy Miah, Emma Rich: The Medicalization of Cyberspace Routledge (New York, 2008) p.130 (Hardcover:ISBN 978-0-415-37622-8 Papercover: ISBN 978-0-415-39364-5)
  13. Gray, Chris Hables, ed. The Cyborg Handbook. New York: Routledge, 1995
  14. Lyotard, Jean François: The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984
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  21. Washington Times - Military seeks to develop 'insect cyborgs'
  22. Military Plans Cyborg Sharks | LiveScience
  23. Ornes, Stephen. "THE PENTAGON'S BEETLE BORGS." Discover 30.5 (2009): 14. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.
  24. Judy, Jack, Phd. "Hybrid Insect MEMS (HI-MEMS)." HI-MEMS - Programs - Microsystem Technology Office. DARPA, Web. 5 Mar 2010.<>.
  25. Guizzo, Eric. "Moth Pupa + MEMS Chip = Remote Controlled Cyborg Insect." Automan. IEEE Spectrum, 17 Feb 2009. Web. 1 Mar 2010.<>.
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  29. [2]
  30. [3]
  31. Generative Music - Brian Eno - In Motion Magazine
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