Cyborg versus Android - what's the difference?

The Judge

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Yep, that's how I'd have distinguished the two: a wholly lab-created/synthetic being on the one hand (even if it has some biological bits as part of its creation), and a living creature, even if genetically manipulated, who/which has so many additional synthetic parts or implants, most especially as to its brain or mind, he/she/it has effectively been turned into another creature. I'm tempted to say it's necessary for the brain to be affected, for a cyborg, since a person remains human, no matter how many mechanical aids he has acquired, if his mind is still human, but I can see that might end up being a rather circular argument.

Anyhow, on that definition, Data is an android, Seven of Nine was a cyborg before the Borg bits were mostly removed, and the Six Million Dollar Man was always human.

That help?
 

tinkerdan

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In my own twisted mind:
I see androids as something that has the appearance of man that has been Man-ufactured.
If you stretch this to the limit you could include some of the present toys out there that are full size. They would be very low to no functioning, but somehow otherwise fit the definition.

Cyborgs, and though some separate it out also Bionics, are augmented organisms and don't require having the appearance of a man and could in fact include any living organism that has been deliberately altered to enhance or improve it.

If we ever figure a way to transfer the entire contents of a human brain then even if we start with an android I think--in agreement with some other mentions and possibly stretching it a bit more--that would become a cyborg.
 

Onyx

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I don't see why the Six Million Dollar Man wouldn't qualify as as cyborg. Anyone with surgical cybernetic parts would qualify, regardless of where they are installed.

What probably wouldn't qualify is the Terminator, since the flesh parts are merely disguise from an independent android robot that can function without them. But D.A.R.Y.L. would be a cyborg, despite the non-human brain.

I think the main delineators are that the entity could be considered essentially organic on some level (even if it is just mind state), and that the cybernetics are somewhat permanent, rather than just a device you slip on. What is kinda funky in the definition is that a human with non-cybernetic replacement parts (like a synthetic organic hand), isn't a "cyborg" but some other kind of hybrid.

A cyborg does not have to appear to be "andro" (human) in shape, so there isn't any necessary overlap between androids and cyborgs. A dolphin with cybernetic parts is a cyborg, but a robot shaped like a dolphin is not an android, but cetdroid(?).


You could say that an organic robot that is human shaped is an android, even if it has no cybernetics. This is essentially what a Replicant is - it was never actually a person.
 

TheDustyZebra

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Seven of Nine was a cyborg before the Borg bits were mostly removed
Not coincidentally, I'm sure, one can remember the makeup of a cyborg by both Borg and Cybermen. Not so helpfully named, Data still helps because he was always going around saying he was an android.
 

The Judge

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I think for me calling someone a cyborg is dehumanising them, making them "other", which is why I'd try and reserve it for those whose mind -- and therefore to me, their humanity -- has been affected. But it's more an emotional reaction than a logical one, I agree.
 

Onyx

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I think for me calling someone a cyborg is dehumanising them, making them "other", which is why I'd try and reserve it for those whose mind -- and therefore to me, their humanity -- has been affected. But it's more an emotional reaction than a logical one, I agree.
Have you had occasion to hear someone called a cyborg or had to stop yourself doing the same?

Given your feelings about the word, why would you feel comfortable using it on someone who has had a damaged part of their brain replaced with a device?


Or are you talking about the use of the word in fiction only, and concerned that the fictional use will have an undesired affect in the real world, like if real people started to be labeled "muties" ala Marvel Comic's X-Men?
 

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Thank you for all your considered responses. As far as I can see everyone seems to be happy that an android is a manufactured entity made to look and to some extent, depending on amount of technology involved, act like a human being. Its manufactured parts can include biological parts grown in a lab or factory.

Cyborg as a term seems to be a little bit more contentious. It is an organism augmented by parts that are controllable by that organism. Does this mean that people with prosthetic arms who can move the fingers through concentrating on sending the right signals into the arm are cyborgs?
 

Onyx

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Does this mean that people with prosthetic arms who can move the fingers through concentrating on sending the right signals into the arm are cyborgs?
Technically, yes. Is anyone going to bother labeling that person "cyborg!" and chase them with pitchforks? Probably not.
 

Toby Frost

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I would assume that a cyborg started off human and had parts replaced with artificial ones: technically, I suppose this would apply to anyone with a prosthesis or even a pacemaker, but it seems to lend itself to artificial limbs, eyes etc. Which I think means that Reese was wrong to call the Terminator a cyborg. It was an android, built from scratch and, covered in artificially-cultured skin.

I think the replacement of parts is vital for a cyborg, so a vatgrown person like Hideo in Neuromancer wouldn't count. It's just about possible that the replicants in Blade Runner contain machinery as well as biological stuff - they do in the novel, and Pris does seem to malfunction - but I'd still call them androids.

Of course, I prefer the term "artificial person".
 

-K2-

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Just for the record, I find it highly doubtful that you will ever see Terminator like cyborgs/androids. Terminator like robots, perhaps, although as another has suggested in other threads, there is where you will see significant differences than humans regarding functions and abilities. Mostly in that their size will for the foreseeable future will have to be significantly larger. More so, certain human abilities and design traits (the hand for one), become so complex that it is actually not practical unless it becomes massive.

Androids that even come close to mimicking humans... I believe that will require some significant technological leaps (which they are working at, like muscle replicating material), more akin to what we're seeing in the new Westworld.

In any situation however, the power-supply will be everything.

K2
 

Serendipity

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Just for the record, I find it highly doubtful that you will ever see Terminator like cyborgs/androids. Terminator like robots, perhaps, although as another has suggested in other threads, there is where you will see significant differences than humans regarding functions and abilities. Mostly in that their size will for the foreseeable future will have to be significantly larger. More so, certain human abilities and design traits (the hand for one), become so complex that it is actually not practical unless it becomes massive.

Androids that even come close to mimicking humans... I believe that will require some significant technological leaps (which they are working at, like muscle replicating material), more akin to what we're seeing in the new Westworld.

In any situation however, the power-supply will be everything.

K2
They are working on the power supply thing - we've seen significant leaps in battery technology and solar cells recently.

However, this will have to be balanced by finding energy-saving methods for some functions e.g. making efficiency use of energy (engineering wisdom has it that if something makes an unwanted noise, you're losing energy and therefore it is not efficient).

The main problem I can foresee is the lack of resources e.g. lithium for batteries (there's even been talk of re-opening the South Crofty mine in Cornwall because it has now become profitable to mine lithium from there i.e. lithium prices have gone up).
 

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@Serendipity ; I believe it's a bigger problem than that. For the amount of power required to run something machine like mechanical to the abilities shown, would take a power source much like we saw in T2/T3?

In any case, regardless of developing less-wasteful/lower-need mechanisms (which is critical), and energy reclamation systems (ex: applying regenerative-braking, shock (absorber) spike generators, etc.), we quite simply need power generation to advance. Batteries in and of themselves are limited. We like to imagine massive power, long lived batteries, yet truth be told the way they're often described is actually generation, not storage and discharge which is all they do.

K2
 

Onyx

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@Serendipity ; I believe it's a bigger problem than that. For the amount of power required to run something machine like mechanical to the abilities shown, would take a power source much like we saw in T2/T3?

In any case, regardless of developing less-wasteful/lower-need mechanisms (which is critical), and energy reclamation systems (ex: applying regenerative-braking, shock (absorber) spike generators, etc.), we quite simply need power generation to advance. Batteries in and of themselves are limited. We like to imagine massive power, long lived batteries, yet truth be told the way they're often described is actually generation, not storage and discharge which is all they do.

K2
What do you consider "generation"? When the energy comes in the form of stored gasoline rather than stored chemical potential in a battery?

Regardless, wireless recharging makes independant androids viable in urban settings even without massive fuel capacity.
 

David Evil Overlord

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My understanding is that cyborg is an abbreviation of CYBernetic ORGanism. Parts are alive, parts are machine.

Android is a droid (totally machine) designed to mimic man (andro = man). The level of accurate mimicry varies; some look completely human, some have dataports and seams and other obvious mechanisms.

The dividing line can be blurred. The Arnold Schwarzenegger terminator was described as a cyborg, because it was a machine "skeleton" covered in vat-grown human tissue.
 

BigBadBob141

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An Android is a manufactured humanoid shaped robot, the Japanese Asimo might qualify, or ST:NGs Data, it could even look like a living human on the outside.
A Cyborg is someone who starts off human, but then had various parts replaced by mechanics, example being the Six Billion Dollar Man, or a very extreme case Doctor Who's Cybermen!
 

farntfar

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So if Jean-Luc Picard was out with some friends and met ObiWan, might he say 'These are not the Borgs you're looking for."?
 
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