Robot, android or cyborg…do you know the difference?

Cyborg or android? What do you think?

Brock is a cyborg. A human man who has been modified with human and mechanical parts. RAWR!

I was first introduced to cyborgs in Star Trek:The Next Generation with “the Borg.” The Borg were former humans who had been turned into robots through a computer interface that networked them. They acted and thought as one unit. The Borg were the bad guys.

Now, in sci-fi romance, cyborgs have joined werewolves and vampires as former villains who have become the new heroes.

So what’s the difference between machines, robots, androids and cyborgs? Based on my research and opinion, these are my definitions:

A machine is a mechanical device that performs a function(s). A cotton gin, an automobile, and a typewriter are machines.

A robot is a computerized machine that can react to the environment, but it doesn’t “think” beyond its programming or feel emotion. Current example: the Roomba vacuum cleaner. Roomba reacts to its environment. If it hits an obstacle, it goes round it. It avoids stairs, and when it’s done cleaning, it returns to its base. A regular vacuum (a machine) can’t do that.

An android is a robot with a human appearance. Fictional example: The Terminator. I’ve read that the terminator was a cyborg, but I consider him to be an android, because (correct me if I’m wrong) it was never mentioned that he’d been human.

A cyborg, short for cybernetic organism, is a biomechatronic (biologic, mechanical, electronic) being. Cyborgs are human, but have been altered with mechanical and computer parts. They think and feel, but have enhanced abilities. The term “cyborg” was first coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline in Astronautics Magazine, talking about the enhancement that might be needed to mankind to survive in space. Example: Brock Mann in Stranded with the Cyborg. After an attack that nearly killed him, he was fitted with several prostheses and had a microcomputer implanted in his brain.

Stranded600x900Stranded with the Cyborg blurb

Penelope Aaron, the former Terran president’s daughter, regrets how she got Agent Brock Mann booted from the security force. But now that she’s an interplanetary ambassador about to embark on her first diplomatic mission, she still doesn’t want him tagging along. Especially since he seems to be stronger, faster, more muscled, and sexier than she remembers. And pretending to be her husband? This mission couldn’t get more impossible!

Ten years ago Penelope Isabella Aaron had been a pain in Brock Mann’s you-know-what. Much has changed in a decade: “PIA” as he code-named her, has grown up and is about to attend her first Alliance of Planets summit conference, and Brock has been transformed into a cyborg after a near-fatal attack. Now a secret agent with Cyber Operations, a covert paramilitary organization, Brock gets called in, not when the going gets tough, but when the going gets impossible. So when he’s unexpectedly assigned to escort Penelope to the summit meeting, he balks at babysitting a prissy ambassador. But after a terrorist bombing, a crash landing on a hostile planet, and a growing attraction to his protectee, Operation: PIA may become his most impossible assignment yet.

An excerpt from Stranded with the Cyborg

Hacking into Pia’s PerComm had been child’s play. He’d read her message while she typed it. Begrudgingly, he gave her points for not buying his story at face value. Maybe she was a little more security conscious than he’d thought. Maybe she had matured a little, but he couldn’t answer her questions without revealing classified information and endangering his fellow cyborgs.

Like having his circuits fried, misleading Pia left a bitter taste in his mouth. It shouldn’t have mattered. Lying was second nature in covert operations. One did not share the whole truth with protectees nor the hiring organization. Secrecy allowed you to perform your job unshackled by rules and regulations. It offered a benefit to the client too: deniability. They didn’t want to know what went down or how the mission got accomplished. Cyberoperatives didn’t get paid to tell the truth; they got paid to save lives any way they could.

If choking out the Arcanian had bothered Pia, she’d be shocked to discover the other things he’d done.

She was too soft to handle the truth.

Too soft in many ways. Her delicate hand with its fragile bones was swallowed up in his rough cyborg man paw. How long had it been since he’d touched a woman? He scanned his memory banks, and, with a jolt, realized it had been years. Hand-holding wasn’t one of the services offered on Darius 4, not that there would be any point to holding a sex droid’s hand anyway. He’d always been too focused on his career to invest the time in a real relationship, and, after the attack, his transformation, and recruitment to Cy-Ops, he’d become guarded, wary, secretive, behaviors deleterious to intimacy. All his “relationships” had been of the monetary variety, offering no risk to the Cy-Ops program or his emotions.

“What are you doing?” Pia glared at him, and he realized he’d unconsciously squeezed her hand, brushed his thumb across the top.

“Nothing.” He disengaged and flexed his fingers.

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2 Responses to Robot, android or cyborg…do you know the difference?

  1. So, would the six million dollar man by a cyborg? I always considered him an “advanced” human. And I didn’t realize the “Borgs” in Star Trek were once human, other than when they turned Picard into one of them. Learn something knew every day. Very interesting….

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I would consider the Six Million Dollar Man human too. He was called the “bionic man.” I think a case could be made that he was cyborg, but for me, the definitive factor is whether the nervous system is altered and Steve Austin’s wasn’t.

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