What is a “cyborg” and why should I be interested?

The word cyborg was coined in 1960 and refers to a cybernetic organism.  Cybernetics is the science of communication and automatic control systems in both machines and living things.  Over time, cyborg has come to mean people (and animals) enhanced, augmented or assisted by any technology such as, but not limited to,  prosthetics, orthotics, implants, transplants, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, or wearable tech.  Sometimes the terms borg and cyborg are interchangeable.  Many of us are cyborgs today and have questions, concerns, and real needs that need to be addressed like insurance coverage, product safety, workplace and school discrimination, social acceptance, religious and ethical concerns, and legal considerations.  These topics are just a few.

There’s a lot of interesting and important work being done in the various disciplines that affect cyborgs.   The purpose of Borg Fest is to bring together the different cyborg communities and their support networks of professional providers and vendors to have a grand conversation on  “how do we make life better for ourselves?”  Check out our interest form to get a feel for the various communities we have in mind.  Our goal is to extend invitations to a well-balanced group of participants representative of our diverse cyborg community.

Who will attend Borg Fest?

Borg Fest is a celebration for an intentional community of people interested in human augmentation and enhancement.  Many of the participants will themselves have been augmented as a result of accident, injury, war, congenital defect, illness, or disease.  Others may have been augmented for personal, professional, artistic, stylistic, philosophical, political, or religious reasons.  Some of the participants are industry and academic leaders in the fields that provide products and services to this community.  Others are government regulators and elected or appointed officials that shape the public policy affecting this community.  There may also be critics and those concerned with safety, ethics, and morality.  Amidst the celebration, key conversations will occur, critical contacts made, relationships formed, ideas crystalized, companies started, concepts demonstrated, solutions marketed, questions answered, and people will be helped.

Will Borg Fest be a freak show?

No.  Borg Fest is a celebration based on better living through respect, understanding, and collaboration.

Do people like being called “borgs” or “cyborgs”?

Today, there isn’t yet a good word that readily describes all the kinds of people and the various forms of augmentations they have made to their bodies.  The politics of identity sometimes make it difficult for different groups of people to rally around a common name.  Consider “Negro,” “Colored,” “Black,” “African-American,” as well as “homosexual,” “queer,” and “gay” or even “cripple,” “disabled,” “handicapped,” “handi-capable,” and “differently abled.”  These are just three examples where groups have struggled with a term that fit best with their identity.  Clearly, it’s important to allow groups to transition from one name to another as their identity and society changes.

What is Borgtown and why the sci-fi references?

Borgtown is the fictitious place in Austin, Texas where the event will be held.  Science fiction has long captured our imaginations and has prompted us to develop real-world technologies and perspectives.  Sci-fi provides us with a safe harbor or alternate reality to explore complex subjects and experiment with the answers.  Sci-fi gives us the first cyborgs such as “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1973) and “The Terminator” (1984) and it’s clear that these examples have influenced the development of modern day cyborgs.  The influence of science fiction and its use as a tool for imagining “what if” cannot be underestimated.  Borgtown will help us imagine “what if”.  It will be a stylized, futuristic Asian setting that will be a refreshing and exciting break from sterile hotel ballrooms and convention center conference rooms!

See also “Why Today’s Inventors Need to Read More Science Fiction.”

What is the purpose of the interest form?

The purpose of the interest form is to help us understand the demand for the festival in terms of who is interested, how many are interested, and what their interest is.  It will help us scope the event and balance the participation pool by extending invitations based on your areas of interest.

We’ll add more FAQs as they come up.

Interested?  Let us know and receive email updates on early-bird registration discounts, event details, logistics, participation opportunities, VIP guests, news, and more.


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