Cybernetics

This article won the "Technology Award" during Summercamp 2019. Thank you, Ironrise Games!

Cybernetics is the marketable term for mechanical and electronic alterations, augmentations and additions to organic flesh. Ever since the nerve interfacing technology was perfected, the cybernetics market has exploded and cybernetics in all forms have become so common most everyone has some form of cybernetic alteration done to their body.

"We've got six guards, posted in overlapping fields of view, spaced approximately 10 meters apart." Carla scanned the area through the scope of her rifle, her targeting computer marking targets effortlessly, even through the fog, with relevant data as she processed the scene.   "Any chance of finding a hidden path? I'm not keen on raising a fuss." Drax, huddling behind a foul-smelling trash container, didn't see more than one guard from his stinking vantage point.   "Looks like you're gonna have to get your hands dirty on this one." She marked one of the targets in blue and relayed the information to their tactical network. "If you take out this dingleberry you'll have way more room to move around. Don't get sloppy."   "Got it." Drax followed the markings left by Carla on the tactical net, taking care not to step into any guard's lines of sight, indicated by a dull red light on his own visual overlay.
— Drax and Carla on mission.

Discovery

Being able to interface complex computers and mechanics with organic matter and have it controlled naturally by the brain has been a dream among the people of the world for a century. Ever since robotics became commonplace and people started to realise that mechanics and computers could outpace organics the idea took root and scientists, doctors and designers worked tirelessly to make it happen.

Primitive Prosthetics [2430-2500 AC]

By the early 2430s the technology was already in testing on animals and moved on to sapient testing within thirty years. In the early 2480s cosmetic and robotic cybernetics had begun being sold on the market and used in healthcare, but there was still a long way to go until full nerve and brain interaction was successful. Crude replacements for bodyparts controlled by hand-controls or muscle-twitching were commonplace in the medical field, but no true replacement for a body part was anywhere near the dream of full cybernetic replacement.

The Wonderchild [2552 AC]

By 2552 AC the first successful nerve integration was performed on a 12 year old Illim girl, who had both her legs, her pelvic bone and parts of her lower spine replaced with a mechanical prosthetic that was perfectly integrated into her body and the servos mapped to her original nerves, allowing her full movement and access to her prosthetics as if it was her original body.

Naturally, she lacked the sensitivity of touch, moisture, pressure etc that organic skin can provide, but rudimentary sensor technology allowed her to have a dull sense of pressure, quickly assisting her in learning to walk, in spite of being unable to move her legs since a paralyzing accident 6 years earlier.

Worldwide adoption [2556 AC]

With a successful nerve integration, cybernetics as a brand and method for healthcare and self-improvement became a widespread, legal market in 2556 AC. The market exploded with clinics and corporations who were jumping at the chance to exploit this new technology. In the first years, mistakes were many, fatalities numerous and lawsuits frequent, but after a few rocky years, the market matured and cybernetics became a reliable and appreciated part of life.

Nerve Interfacing and learning to walk

It's not all sunshine and rainbows, in spite of successful integration. Some implants are ready to go almost immediately following surgery, such as limb or organ replacements as they are designed to function identically to the biological counterpart, but additional functionality that previously did not exist must be learned and this can be a gruelling process for some. It's akin to learning how to speak, walk or ride a bicycle from scratch. Nerve connections that did not previously exist suddenly do and the brain must be trained in its use.

Depending on the type of implant this can be incredibly difficult and requiring up to a year of practice. Some clinics offer coaching to ease this process and it can drastically reduce the adaptation period.

Transorganism

The advent of cybernetics fundamentally changed the world and its people. Suddenly they were more than organic creatures. They had the option of becoming "the perfect being" and cybernetic alteration began running rampant. "Transorganist philosphy" became a global phenomenon and in places all around the world, the transorganists formed a near religious devotion to the idea that cybernetic alteration was somehow the natural progression for the species of the world.

Related Items
Discovery
Nerve Interfacing invented in 2546 AC.
Access & Availability
Most everyone can get cybernetics, provided they can afford the equipment, surgery procedure and subsequent maintenance.
Important Organizations
Children of the Cataclysm (Religious)
Goptah (Criminal)
Augmentation Types
Cosmetic
Limb Replacement
Organ Replacement
Neurological Augmentation
Medical implants
Ocular Augmentation
Sensors
Analytical Computers
Tech Interfacing
External Hardware Integration

Related Reading

CD10: Cybernetics
Generic article | Jul 14, 2020

Rules governing the installation and use of cyberware.

Cybernetic Alteration Addiction
Condition | May 26, 2021

CAA is an addiction that makes a person seek out and perform excessive cybernetic alterations on themselves, commonly beginning with excess cosmetic alteration.

Cybernetic Bleed
Condition | May 26, 2021

Cybernetic Bleed is a condition that can affect those of great age that are cybernetically enhanced. It's quite a common ailment that is hard to treat.

Chromesnatchers
Profession | Apr 19, 2021

The Chromesnatchers are bounty hunters who seek out and kidnap people with specific cybernetic implants in order to harvest them and sell for money.

Naturalists

A logical backlash against the transorganist movement were the Naturalists; people staunchly opposed to the idea of "butchering" their natural bodies only to graft on mechanical pieces. There's a huge variance in naturalist ideals, from the ones who have no problem with cosmetic and medical augmentation (or replacement), to the ones who religiously refuse even medical help.

A transorganist cannot understand the notion that someone wouldn't want to improve and become better through cybernetic augmentation. The naturalists, on the other hand, cannot understand why anyone would butcher their natural body to replace it with cold steel (or titanium and thermoplane as would be the case for most cybernetics) or take the risks involved in becoming augmented.

Risks and clinics

Cybernetics, as popular as they are, are not without risks. Any time you cut someone open, things can go wrong and sometimes do. Cybernetic complications, infections, unsuccessful procedures and even deaths do happen. Simple procedures, such as extremity amputations or external installations, are not as bereft with risks but organ replacements and neurological implants are dangerous procedures in spite of science having come far in mitigating the risks. Finer, more expensive clinics have the competence and tools to mitigate risks even further, but not everyone can afford the premium treatments.

Cybernetic Bleed

There is also the constant danger of Cybernetic Bleed, a condition that so far affects almost everyone who is cybernetically enhanced. Cybernetic Bleed is a condition caused by prolonged exposure to cybernetics and is a buildup of "grey goo" on the glial (connecting) tissue on nerves where the tech and body interface. There is no known treatment or cure for CB other than the removal of the implant. Prolonged CB can lead to arthiritis, inflammation, weakening of the immune system and eventually death.

Vindral are immune to this condition, likely because of their vastly genetic makeup and different aging process. With no cure other than the removal of the implants and with some implants being vital to survival, CB can be a death sentence to those relying on their implants.

Maintenance and degradation

Another real danger is the ongoing costs of having cybernetics. Bodies heal naturally, at least to a point. Cybernetics do not. The wear and tear that cybernetics suffer are things that must be dealt with and only specialists possess the know-how to do so. Maintenance over the lifetime of an implant can easily be many times the cost of the implant itself, leaving some people with non-functional or unreliable equipment for the rest of their lives if they can't afford to keep them in ship shape.

Cybernetic complications

Botched procedures happen, healing can get sideswiped by mistakes or poor recovery. Mistakes happen. Common complications to cybernetics are largely temporary, but some can become permanent. The most common complication is pain, reduced functionality in the implant, scarring and infection of the surgery wound. The more permanent complications include implant malfunction, rejection, severe tissue damage, nerve damage and death.

Implant Rejection

This is a condition where the body refuses to interface with the implant, causing degraded or even halted functionality, pain and other symptoms such as inflammation, headaches, dizzyness and nausea. People who exhibit rejection can take anti-rejection drugs, currently only produced by Vandrid Cyberlogics under the name Interfacia. The drug is sold at extortionate prices and people who rely on Interfacia for survival are often forced to destitution by the extreme pricing.

Implant rejection isn't overly common, only affecting less than 10% of people with cybernetics, but for those that do suffer from it, it's incredibly expensive and painful to live with. Especially if the implant is necessary for survival.

Societal impact

Aside from the previously mentioned philosophical schism between transorganists and naturalists, cybernetics have had a huge impact on society. Not only has the cosmetics industry exploded with the options offered by cybernetics, such as hair replacement, neon hair, skin transplantation, gore and circuit tattoos, but the acceptance of enhanced people has become quite widespread.

After The Cataclysm, the formation of the Children of the Cataclysm has driven an even greater wedge inbetween transorganists and naturalists, taking it to the next level by turning cybernetic augmentation into a religious goal.

Instant Healthcare

With the advent of HealthMon, implants that monitor the overall health of the user, healthcare has had an even more extreme schism between the wealthy and poor. A Web-connected implant that can instantly alert health services of any danger you are in is an incredibly powerful tool to prevent illness, heart conditions or treat injuries quickly. Of course, these services are extremely expensive and vary greatly in quality and assistance offered.

Even if one possesses a HealthMon implant does not mean one has to have emergency responders. A doctor can easily scan the implant when you arrive at the clinic to find out your general state of health. However, those who do sign up for emergency responders will be guaranteed to be brought to a clinic within 15 minutes of an alert. There is also the option to upgrade this to extraction teams, who are heavily armed and armored, ready to bring you out of whatever danger you may be in, be it a street shootout, Chromesnatcher kidnapping or what have you.

Cybernetic Alteration Addiction[CAA]

With the ability to change virtually everything about your body and mind, it was only a matter of time before people started using cybernetic alteration as a means to deal with more deep seated issues such as mental health and addictive personalities. Cybernetic Alteration Addiction has become a real problem in society, particularly among the younger population.

People who inherently feel not at home in their body or suffer from the immense pressure of societal expectations on beauty are particularly susceptible to the allure of completely transforming yourself and with the poor state of mental healthcare (at least for the underpriviledged) there is little help to get before the addiction either kills you through over-modifications or crushes you financially.

Legal and Registration

"Are you crazy? This shit's SO illegal, man!"   Ghopeg slid the elegant, monofilament blades back into his underarms, his "skin" closing over them, leaving the arms looking like any cybernetic replacement.   "You know what, Soulek? I don't give the slightest of fucks!" he grinned.
— The goon Ghopeg showing off his new "toys" to his collegue Soulek.

As with all new technology, someone will find a way to weaponise it and cybernetics are certainly no exception. Concealed weapons, built-in body armor, targeting computers, surveillance equipment, muscle servos and similar things are all augmentations that have been weaponised in both police forces and mercenary bands. The need for legislation and registration was apparent and several augmentations have been regulated, requiring your employer to install the augment and registering its use, or requiring a licence akin to owning a weapon.

Obviously, those who do not care for government overwatch may install such implants at non-regulated black-market clinics willing to see between their fingers and "lose the paperwork", given the proper financial motivation.


Articles under Cybernetics



Cover image: by CC BY, Modified by Tobias Linder

Comments

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18 Dec, 2019 13:31

For better or worse (since, you know, critique revolves around SAYING something about the work), I feel I have way less to say about this article haha. As a result it may seem like I'm splitting hairs on things, but that's just because I feel the article is really solid and I don't have much to add in that respect. Feel free to ask my opinions on specific things if you'd like!   1) "Some clinics offer coaching to ease this process and coaching can drastically reduce the adaptation period."   The wording there, using coaching twice in quick succession, is a bit odd.   2) "...the idea that anyone cybernetically altered was somehow the natural progression for the species of the world."   Given how the first part of the sentence is worded, I would suggest changing "...the idea that anyone cybernetically altered..." to "...the idea that cybernetic alteration". I think the sentence would flow better and the language would be more clear.   3) "...to the ones you religiously refuse..."   I believe that "you" is supposed to be "who"   4) "Prolonged CB lead to arthiritis..."   I think adding "can" before lead would sound more natural.   5) "The wear and tear that cybernetics suffer are things that must be dealt with and only specialist possess the know-how to do so, and they know how take get paid for their work."   There are a couple of issues here that I notice. Aside from being a bit of a run-on sentence, I think "specialist" should be "specialists", and "take" should be "to".   If I would personally suggest a rewrite of the latter half of the sentence, something like "...dealt with by specialists that possess the know-how to do so, and they know how to get paid for their work."   6) "...healing can get sideswiped by mistakes or poor healing."   Healing twice in the same sentence is a bit repetitive, I'd suggest "...poor recovery." instead.   7) "The drug is sold at extortionate prices and people who rely on implants for survival are often forced to destitution by the extreme pricing."   Obviously from context I can tell these "people" are those whose life-critical implants are rejecting, but it might be worth clarifying that by saying those "...who rely on Interfacia/it for survival..." . I think that would clear up any doubt as to the meaning, unless you're implying that everyone who gets transplants needs these drugs, in which case I would add more references to the rejection of implants throughout the article.   8) "Not only have the cosmetics industry exploded with the options offered by cybernetics, such as hair replacement, neon hair, skin transplantation, gore and circuit tattoos etc"   I would suggest changing have to has, and add a comma after tattoos.   9) "...prevent illness, heart conditions or treat injuries fast."   This wording feels a bit odd, I would suggest changing it to something like "...prevent illnesses, heart conditions, or treat injuries quickly."   10) "Of course, these services are extremely expensive and vary greatly in quality and services offered."   Same as before, services twice in the same sentence is a bit repetitive. I think that "...vary greatly in the quality and types of assistance offered." sounds a bit more natural.   11) "Even if one possess..."   Should be "possesses"   12) Instant Healthcare   I'd like to see a HealthMon article, or at least a snippet somewhere elaborating on this, and I DEFINITELY want to know what Chromesnatchers are! haha   13) "...through sheer modifications..."   I would change "sheer modifications" to "over-modification"   14) "...non-regulated clinics and there are plenty of black-market clinics..."   I feel like you could just leave "non-regulated black market clinics" and the sentence would read much better.     Like before, sorry if this seems nitpicky, but the article itself is awesome, and I don't have much critique for the content. These are almost more of an "editor" type critique, just pointing out the small stuff that could use some changing. I'm loving learning more about your world, keep it up!

18 Dec, 2019 14:00

Incredibly helpful! Thank you! I've dealt with the things you mentioned and you're right, it reads a lot better.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
18 Dec, 2019 17:12

Glad to hear it! I'm always afraid my comments will come off the wrong way haha. Glad you liked my suggestions!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
18 Dec, 2019 18:04

As always, excellent work Toblin! Originally I was reading through, and wasn't gonna comment and then I hit something I wasn't really expecting: cybernetic bleed, degradation, and then societal impact. At that point, you had my undivided attention. I went back and focused more, realizing just how intricate and beautifully detailed this is. It's stunning. I feel so few choose to focus on the... hmm... "realities" of cybernetics. You really push that its kind of a pros vs. cons situation and that's refreashing. I'm sure its been done in other ways, but this is the first time I've REALLY seen it, you even delve into the psychological element with CAA and I'm just beside myself. The reality of having to register, and why, the grey goo, just... Oof. I couldn't have handled the topic this well. I know the answer your question here, naturalist all the way, but I don't think I'd judge others for not being the same. I hate doctors enough, don't want to have the likleyhood of seeing more increase XD however, I'm not sure I'd feel that way if I was born and raised in this world. I think the impact is fairly well represented by this article, thou I do wonder what happens if someone goes bankrupt and can't pay... repo man situation? If its in the article forgive me, I may have missed it in my excitement. Excellent work again, your really bringing it full tilt this month.

18 Dec, 2019 22:29

Wow. That's some...thank you! I'm touched. Blushing and moved. Thank you a lot for the feedback Dylonisphere!   As for if you cannot pay, you simply don't get your drugs or the maintenance you need, meaning your implants gradually begin to shut down, malfunction or you start to reject them. It's a painful and horrible experience. A slow death, or lifelong pain.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
18 Dec, 2019 22:50

Of course! Sorry I threw up a text wall XD Ooof that's even worse than reposession. Are their like humanitarian aid groups that developed because of it? Charities? Sorry it just popped in my mind there.

18 Dec, 2019 22:56

HAHAHAH. Hah. Haaah....yeah no, there's not a lot of humanitarian stuff in the world anymore. There are some, but they might not necessarily have the resources to help you. Or you could always go to the Children of the Cataclysm. Don't recommend it though. ;)

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
27 Dec, 2019 16:11

This is so well thought out! I enjoyed reading it and imagining each aspect you talked about! I would be tempted by cybernetic augmentation - especially for memory.   One small grammar fix for you: "become so common most everyone have some form of cybernetic alteration done to their body." Should that be "most everyone has"? I think 'everyone' is a collective and gets treated as a singular noun.

Author of Rise: Liminal Chronicles |
27 Dec, 2019 16:40

Good catch! Fixing.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
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