Cybertechnology or Cybernetics is the science of electronic, mechanical, and biological enhancement of living organisms. The term "cybernetic" comes from the Greek word κυβερνητικός meaning "skilled in steering or governing". A Cyborg, a contraction of "cybernetic organism", is a being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts. The term cyberware, a contraction of cybernetic hardware is frequently applied to the enhanced mechanical parts.
Bionics, a portmanteau from biology and electronics, is the application of biological methods and systems to the design of engineering systems. It is the study of biological systems as a precedent to mechanical engineering that forms the basis for Cybernetics.
Cybernetics most primitive antecedents are the peg legs and hooks used to replace missing legs and hands, inferior substitutes for the originals. Engineering advances made prosthetic limbs progressively more effective replacements for missing body parts, until eventually the replacements became superior to the original organic component.
Once elective cybernetic enhancement becomes a reality, each society has to face a number of ethical issues which are not easily resolved, and which invariably turn separate societies in different directions. Some embrace cybernetic enhancement whole-heartedly, others reject it completely, and still others find an uneasy middle ground.
Virtually all societies view cybernetically enhanced humans in different terms than "natural" humans, and a wide variety of slang (some derogatory) inevitably grows up to help define that difference.
Kinds of replacement technologies
Primitive Prosthetics are mechanical body parts, usually only limbs, that are semi-functional or non-functional. These are usually attached by straps but not surgically attached and have little or no mechanical operation. These are available at TL–2.
Prosthetics are mechanical body parts that are mass-produced, functional replacements. They are surgically installed by a medical professional, and are the most economical type of replacement body parts, available at TL–9.
Bionics are mechanical body parts that are individually custom-designed replacements, with greater functionality than the original body part. Bionics are the most expensive type of replacement body part, available at TL–9.
Regrowth is a method of replacing body parts involving stimulating the body to regrow its missing part. At TL–9, missing limbs can be regrown, and at higher tech levels damaged non-vital organs can be regrown in place in Metabolic Chambers. Regrowth is more expensive (and time-consuming) than a prosthetic, but is generally cheaper than cloning and bionics.
Cloning involves taking one or more cells from the donor and growing a replacement body part (not an entire clone) in an artificial womb. By TL–13, new body parts of any kind can be selectively cloned from the DNA of any body cell. Once grown, the new part is surgically attached to the donor. Cloning costs about the same as regrowth during the growing period, but surgical re-attachment of the new part is more expensive than any of the other options.
Technology of Cybernetics
|7||Advanced plastic surgery|
|9||Direct brain-machine interface. Early controlled chemical manipulations of body systems|
|10||Enhanced performance prosthetics and subdermal armor|
|11||Direct computer implantation|
|12||Advanced chemical manipulation of body systems|
Types of cybernetics
These are broken into five broad categories: sense modification, brain enhancements, body implants, peripherals, and therapy.
Sense modification are cybernetic modification to the primary sensory organs (eyes and ears). These require sensitive nerve connections. For many sophonts the sense organs are located in the same location in the body as the brain, making the surgery more complicated and dangerous.
Brain enhancements are modifications directly to the brain. These deal with very sensitive nerve connections. These procedures can be extremely dangerous if not done properly, and so they tend to be the most expensive of the cybernetic enhancements.
Body implants include large systems which cannot easily be fit into the head and which are instead mounted in the abdominal or thoracic cavity, sometimes replacing or displacing internal organs.
Larger systems cannot usually be fit inside the skull and so are placed in the thoracic or abdominal cavity, usually anchored to the skeleton, and sometimes replacing part or all of an organ. Body implants include four general areas: respiratory implants, electronics, dermal alteration, and computer implants.
Peripherals are modifications to the arms, legs, and if present tails and proboscis, either for improved performance or adaptation of limbs to special functions.
Therapy consists of organic modification of the character's body, either through drugs, genetic manipulation, or surgical procedure.
The various parts of the cybernetics, including elements such as the casing, microelectronics, and connections to the arterial and nerves system are made with biocompatible materials. These may include metal alloys, carbon nanotubes, silicon gels, and layered polymers.
The exact size and dimensions of the cybernetics are tailored to match the physical characteristics of the recipient. How closely the cybernetics are matched to the recipient depends on the technology involved and the desires of the recipient. Lower quality cybernetics are manufactured in generic sizes which fit most users. Higher quality cybernetics are precisely custom fit with the ability to adjust to the changing physical characteristics of the user.
Most peripheral cybernetics have a realistic appearance with synthetic skin, silent operation and normal body temperatures. By TL–10 distinguishing between natural limbs and cybernetic replacements requires a detailed examination or Awareness sense. Some individuals prefer a colorful or bizarre finish or leave the internal mechanics exposed.
Many of the cybernetic enhancements detailed require the input of electrical power to function. This power is produced in one of two ways.
Items that need only small amounts of power, such as various passive sensor eyes, are powered by tiny thermoelectric generators that produce the needed electrical power from body heat. These generators are subsumed within the volume, weight, and price of the item.
Other items, particularly those which transmit energy (active sensors and radio or video transmitters) and enhance strength, have thermoelectric power supplemented by tiny long-life batteries, also subsumed within the volume, weight, and price of the item. These batteries must be periodically recharged by a specialized adapter which can convert standard current into a form suitable to the batteries.
Body implant cyberware
Brain enhancement cyberware
Sense modification cyberware
- B: Biology
- S: Sophonce
- L: Lifeform Sciences
- NBIC & COMPUTERS
- N - Nano Science / Nanotechnology (Nano-)
- B - Biology / Biotechnology (Bio-)
- I - Information Technology (Info-)
- C - Cognitive Science / Cybertechnology / (Cogno-)
References & Contributors (Sources)
- Mike Jackson. "Cyborgs part 1." Third Imperium 04 (1986): 16-18.
- Mike Jackson. "Cyborgs part 2." Third Imperium 05 (1987): 4-5.
- Mike Jackson. "Cyborgs part 3." Third Imperium 06 (1987): 4-5.
- Gary L. Thomas. "Replacement Body Parts, Part 1." The Travellers' Digest 12 (1989): 35-38.
- Gary L. Thomas. "Replacement Body Parts, Part 2." The Travellers' Digest 13 (1989): 32-39.
- Frank Chadwick, Dave Nilsen. Fire, Fusion, & Steel (Game Designers Workshop, 1994), 79-86.
- Rob Bruce, Kevin Walsh, Randy Hollingsworth. Traveller Hero Book Two (ComStar Games, 2007), .
- Alan Oliver. "Augumetics and Prosthetics (Supplement)." Signs & Portents 82 (July 2010): 24-33
- Pete Nash, Nick Robinson. Cybernetics (Mongoose Publishing, 2011), 33-75.