Cyborn, Clade

Radically altered cyborgised sophonts

Clade Cyborn
Image from Steve Bowers
Clade Cyborn are a very variable clade, thanks to their modular design and artificial shell. Some say that the eyes of a Cyborn are the only part which are recognisably biont - this is largely a myth.

This clade has its origin as part of the Twin Stream faction of the Genomorpher branch of the Genetekkers. Their name, "Cyborn", has since come to refer to any True Cyborg whose organic component is purpose-grown to be mated with its cybernetic component (see cyborn). The Twin Stream was already regarded as something of a black sheep among the Genetekkers. It had committed the so-called "mechanist heresy" of incorporating some inorganic cyberware in its development plans. This was one of the few things universally regarded as a "sin" by the fragmented but zealously bioist Genetekker descendants. The members of Twin Stream subsequently slipped even further into technological and ideological "apostasy", and as a result they were virtually disowned as Genetekkers by Genomorphers and Mutationists alike, when they created the Cyborns some time around 500 AT. The Cyborns would be the first in an extremely large and diverse category of sophonts: those who combine bio and cyber to an unprecedented degree, rendering the two literally inseparable from the start.

It could be argued that "Cyborns" (in the broad sense) had eir origins back in the 1st Century AT, when baseline researchers, among other things, cultivated rat neurons to control a robotic arm, and a baseline artist named Eduardo Kac created a "biobot" which used a colony of Amoeba (Dyctiostelium discoideum) as its "brain". However, most modern Cyborns (both broad and specific sense) maintain that this is equivalent to tracing the lineage of Homo sapiens back before mammals - or at least primates - existed. Cyborns "proper" (in either sense) originated no earlier than the Twin Stream faction of the Genetekkers, and eir commission of the so-called "mechanist heresy."

A modern Cyborn is fundamentally an organic brain tissue "meat matrix" cultured on an inorganic scaffolding. The brain tissue is heavily genemodded for optimal performance, rendering its original genotype irrelevant. The inorganic scaffolding is almost always modular, to accommodate subsequent expansion. The scaffolding provides physical support and shape, transports nutrients, and removes waste products. Minimal organic peripherals may be included to support the brain tissue. All of this is typically encased in a largely self-contained cybershell, which is itself usually modular, with numerous external ports of various types. This unit, colloquially termed a "brain box," can be further accessorized with whatever attachments (sensory, manipulative, and other appendages, propulsion units for working in space, and of course weapons of whatever type) are available and desired. This "modularity," including the addition of new brain tissue via expansion of either the modular scaffolding or the addition of new brain boxes linked in parallel, gives Cyborns eir characteristic extreme degree of flexibility, and makes any further sub-categorization into descendant clades ambiguous at best. Classifying Cyborns is even more difficult than trying to categorize nearbaseline humans into distinct clades, and almost as difficult as the taxonomy of vecs with modular designs and structures.

Cyborns have many philosophical differences; they include hive-minded cultures, and rugged radical individualists and anarchists, and all shades and gradations in between. However they are nearly uniform in their belief that differences over what type of material (bio or cyber) should be used in building and modifying oneself, represent the height of folly and a too-large concession to long-outmoded baseline ways of thinking. "One should use whatever works best for a desired purpose, regardless" best sums up the apparent consensus of Cyborn opinion on the subject. Cyborns are pragmatic almost to a fault when it comes to building, adapting, and modifying emselves.

Many Cyborns find emselves attracted to one form or another of Objectivism. Ey tend to be rebuffed, however, by more orthodox (i.e. wholly inorganic), anti-biont members of that memeplex for eir "biological taint." Many others gravitate toward the Kja Observance, where ey are welcomed and even tend to be almost revered for the "unique insight", ey bring to the practice as beings that are both bio and cyber, wholly integrated, right from the moment of eir creation. Rumours abound of a secret, "heretical" school established by Cyborn Kja members, supposedly open only to Cyborns or at least other True Cyborgs, which combines aspects of the Observance and Objectivism. No hard data concerning this "Kja Objectivism" was available at the time of this writing, but considering Cyborns' demonstrated enthusiasm for syncretism of other sorts, and eir historic indifference to being regarded as "heretics" for other reasons, this development doesn't seem unlikely.

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Development Notes
Text by Mike Parisi
Initially published on 10 November 2004.