Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Voyager
The Borg are genetically and cybernetically altered humanoids (The Borg: Documentary Video). They function as a collective made up of thousands of species who have been assimilated ("The Borg Collective"). The Borg collective is similar to an insect hive: there is one queen and the rest are drones who work for the greater good of the collective. Borg drones have no sense of individuality. Instead, they have what has been termed a "hive mind" ("The Borg"); their minds are linked in a "collective unconsciousness via a unique subspace frequency emitted by each drone" (Aliens: The Borg). The hive mind is "collectively aware"; all Borg drones receive the information acquired by an individual drone. The Borg collective takes its orders from the Borg Queen.
The Borg Queen The Borg Queen is at the core of the entire collective; she "choreographs the actions and thoughts of the entire collective" (The Borg: Documentary Video). While the Borg Queen usually resides in the Delta Quadrant, far away from the main engagements of her drones, she brings order to the collective and provides a common direction for every Borg drone and ship regardless of her physical proximity (The Borg: Documentary Video). Different in appearance from the common Borg drone, the Queen has an artificial body with an organic head and shoulders containing "substantial cybernetic implants" ("Characters: The Borg Queen"). If the Borg Queen is destroyed, which has happened several times, she is immediately replaced. It is unknown "whether more than one Queen exists simultaneously or if a new Queen is created when the old ones dies" ("Characters: The Borg Queen").
The historical origins of the Borg are unknown. Their home world is in the Delta Quadrant--a one hundred-year journey from Earth. It has been theorized that the Borg were originally a humanoid species that became so dependent on technology that they eventually lost most of their "humanoid qualities and are now mostly machine" ("Information about the Borg"). Speculation is that the Borg essentially built themselves; in the process of trying to perfect their whole by using cybernetic enhancements, they permanently crossed the boundary between human and machine.
The main goal of the Borg is to perfect themselves by consuming and assimilating technology ("The Borg Collective"). The Borg accomplish this task by conquering other races, assimilating both the species and its technology (The Borg: Documentary Video). However, they only attempt to assimilate those species and technologies which they consider relevant--that is, advanced enough to be of use to their goal for technological perfection ("The Borg Collective").
We Are Borg
The Borg can function in environments "normally harmful to organic life-forms, such as the vacuum of space" (The Borg: Documentary Video). This provides them with a great advantage in battle, for the ability to operate in the vacuum of space allows them to both repair their own ships and sabotage the enemy with great simplicity. Another advantage that the Borg have in battle is that their hive mind "allows for instantaneous adaptations to shield and phaser frequency modulations" (Aliens: The Borg). This ability for quick adaptation protects both Borg drones and their ships from sustaining most major forms of damage during battle.
The Borg have many cybernetic attributes that are derived from those they assimilated into their collective. All new assimilations are genetically and cybernetically altered during the assimilation process: first, nanoprobes are injected into the blood stream of the victim. These nanoprobes "attach to blood cells [and] re-write [the victim's] DNA" (The Borg: Documentary Video). Next, "cybernetic technology is implanted throughout the [victim's] body" to allow the new drone to become a part of the collective's hive mind. Due to these alterations, Borg drones need no organic sustenance. Instead, they ingest energy to fuel their cybernetic system ("Aliens: The Borg") and use regeneration alcoves to recharge their implants ("The Borg Collective").
You Will Be Assimilated
Borg Attributes ADDITIONS & CYBERNETIC IMPLANTS:
1. Exoskeleton: All drones have a layer of armour that is "attached directly to the skin"; this armour covers almost all of the drone's body "except for the face and parts of the head" ("Exoskeleton"). This exoskeleton protects Borg drones, to a certain extent, from physical damage.
2. Neural Processor: The neural processor is implanted in the Borg drone just below the ribcage. This implant "sends out a neuro-electric field that is capable of regenerating damaged components on other Borg drones." This processor also heals "both organic and inorganic parts" ("The Borg Collective"), and "stores all info and instructions received from the collective" (The Borg: Documentary Video).
3. Neural Transceiver: The neural transceiver is implanted into the upper spinal column of every Borg drone. This transceiver is the medium through which all the knowledge and information received by a Borg drone is linked to the collective.
4. Cortical Node: The cortical node is implanted into the right temple of every Borg drone. This implant is absolutely essential to the survival of a drone. It is a "small tubular device, approximately eight centimetres long." This implant "regulates all Borg cybernetic implants, [...] suppresses the humanoid immune system and prevents drones from rejecting Borg implants." Lastly, as all Borg drones require regeneration periods to recharge and maintain their implants, the cortical node "allows drones to interface with an alcove and regenerate" ("Borg Cortical Node").
The Borg represent the possible results of overusing technology; today we are already beginning to experience the dependence on technology which encompasses the Borg so dramatically. The Borg's need for new technological advancements, and their obsession with the perfection of the 'body', has ultimately cost them their humanity. They now lack any emotional responses or individuality, which is why they are easily the most feared species in the Star Trek universe. The Borg's dependence on technology serves as a warning to humanity not to sacrifice our individuality and our emotions--in essence our humanity--for perfection through inorganic enhancements.
The Borg could also be representative of technology's ability to create a state of unity in which all individuals work for the good of the whole. Like the internet today, the technology used by the Borg allows them to share their "mental abilities in the construction of collective intelligence" (Lévy 258) so that all Borg drones will benefit from the community's knowledge. While the unity of the Borg collective can be considered symbolic of technology's ability to create a system of "collective intelligence," the unity experienced by the Borg collective cannot be considered an admirable state by common standards. The "collective intelligence" of the internet only allows us to offer our knowledge to others in our online communities--we cannot force others to accept our knowledge or share our opinions. However, the "collective intelligence" of the Borg completely controls all thoughts and actions, eliminating any possibility of individual choice. In the Borg collective, the flesh and mind of the individual has become the absolute property of the "war machine" and the "sight machine" (Critical Art Ensemble 172). Because the Borg use their unity for the purposes of war and destruction, while controlling all minds in its collective, the possibility for collective morality offered by technology has mutated into a collective immorality--the war machine directs them to destroy, and the sight machine (the Borg 'hive mind') makes sure that they obey. In the Borg collective, there are no individuals to offer alternatives or work for change. Therefore, in this interpretation, the Borg are a warning for those who seek a unified "collective intelligence" (Lévy) through technology; it can be used and controlled by agencies whose purposes are less than benevolent.
YOU WILL BECOME ONE
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Critical Art Ensemble. "The Coming of Age of the Flesh Machine." In Reading Digital Culture. Ed. David Trend. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001. 172-182.
"Borg Cortical Node." Star Trek Voyager Info. http://www.startrek-voyager.info/dictionary.html.
"Borg Neural Processor." Star Trek Voyager Info. http://www.startrek-voyager.info/dictionary.html.
"Borg Primary Node" http://www.ccdump.org/borgprimarynode.html.
"The Borg." Star Trek Voyager Info. http://www.startrek-voyager.info/dictionary.html.
"The Borg Collective." Star Trek Voyager Info. http://www.startrek-voyager.info/j.html.
"The Borg: Documentary Video." StarTrek.com. http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/features/documentaries/article/5299.html. (2004).
"Characters: Borg Queen." StarTrek.com http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/library/characters/index.html. (2005).
"Exoskeleton." Star Trek Voyager Info. http://www.startrek-voyager.info/dictionary.html.
"Information About the Borg." The Borg Institute of Technology. http://grove.ufl.edu/~locutus/Bit/borg-desc.html. (29 Nov 2000).
Lévy, Pierre. "Collective Intelligence." In Reading Digital Culture. Ed. David Trend. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001. 253-258.