Bionics is the application of biological principals to the study and design of engineering systems (especially electronic systems).
A cyborg is a biological being who has certain physiological processes aided or controlled by mechanical or electronic devices. (See bionic man, bionic woman, bionics)
Cybernetics is the theoretical study of communication and control processes in biological, mechanical, and electronic systems, especially the comparison of these processes in biological and artificial systems.
So what’s this is saying I think is that a bionic leg is one that replicates a biological leg – when its attached to a human, the human becomes a cyborg or a bionic human. When you attach it to a robot, the robot is a step closer to becoming an android.
Asimov’s robots had a positronic brain which was suppose to replicate the functioning of the human brain which makes it a cybernetic device
Cyborg: any organism which has synthetic hardware which interacts directly with the brain, and alters the way it functions
Robot: a machine designed to perform a task
Android: a robot designed to mimic human behavior and/or appearance
Bionic: any organism which has mechanical or robotic hardware designed to augment or enhance the body
Now, lets look at some popular sci-fi characters and see which they are…
Star Trek’s “The Borg”
These are pretty much the definitive cyborgs. They have an extremely large amount of hardware implanted into their brains designed to change the way their brains work (efficiency, collective consciousness, etc.). But they are also extremely bionic. Cyborg, however, is the dominant designation, so they are classified as a cyborg.
Deus Ex’s “JC Denton”
It is hard to classify JC, since his brain is the player’s brain, and we have to cybernetics in our minds to change the way we think. However, if we decide that all of JC’s bionic implants are activated merely by JC’s will alone, we realize that his nanites are interacting directly with his brain, therefore potentially classifying him as a cyborg. If one could prove, however, that his implants are not activated by thought (but rather by a switch on his arm or hormones) then he becomes a bionic.
No, he’s not a cyborg. Living flesh added over a totally robotic being in order to make him appear human. He’s an android. There is no living tissue in his AI unit.
Star Trek’s “Data”
The definitive android, based directly from Issac Asimov’s original androids.
Star War’s “Darth Vader”
Since we never saw any evidence to believe that ol’ Darth had any cybernetics in his highly bionic body, we are forced to classify him as bionic.
This is definitely an android. Data is centuries more advanced, of course.
System Shock’s “Employee 2-4601”
The Hacker’s bio-neural interface makes him a true cyborg. He can hack a computer by plugging it into his temple and “thinking”.
System Shock 2’s Hero (Goggles)
Like JC, it’s hard to classify him, since I do not remember any hard evidence to support if or if not his augmentations interface directly with his brain. He does not enter cyberspace the same way his predecessor did, (remember?) Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I’d say he’s a cyborg as well.
The Matrix’s “Neo” (et al)
He (they) has hardware in his brain which allows his consciousness to interface directly with a computer network. Yes, he’s a cyborg.
The Ghost in the Shell Girl (I forget her name… )
Assuming that she does indeed have some biological cells in her brain left (something she had a bit of anxiety over), she’s a cyborg. However, if she does not – even if the entire rest of her body was organic (which we know not to be the case) she would become an android. In fact, one of the points of the movie was where to draw the line between human and machine … cyborg and android.
Star War’s “C-3pO” and “R2-d2”
Are they androids or robots? They can mimic (feel?) human emotions … so no matter how robotic they may look, they are androids. Droid is, after all, short for android.
System Shock’s “SHODAN”
Thought I’d throw this one in. Is she an android? Maybe … are robotic components required to make a synthetic being which mimics human behavior an android, or is it simply the capacity to mimic human behavior? Is SHODAN “alive?” Are any androids “Alive?”
System Shock’s “Cortex Reaver”
The Cortex Reaver is a rather unique cyborg, in that it does not use any part of the body other then the brain, it does not implant any hardware into the brain, and the brain which it uses, is dead. (For those of you who did not play Shock 1, whenever you die, SHODAN turns you into a Cortex Reaver, which is basically a huge spider-like being with a human head lodged in the center as the CPU … your head.) Considering all of this, is the Cortex Reaver truly a cyborg, or is it a robot?
Thief 2’s “Servants”
People, still living, or possibly animated corpses, with magical, or highly technological, masks which control them. Are they cyborgs? We don’t know enough about them to say.
“The Six Million Dollar Man”
How could I leave out the original bionic man?