Throughout Star Trek's run we see common use of medical bionics to replace unhealthy organs: Picard has a artificial heart where his was stabbed by a Nausicaan, Geordie has artificial eyes to compensate for his blindness and Vedek Bareil later gets many artificial organ transplants we also know that for the most part such technologies outperform natural organs in many ways.

In the TNG: The Measure of a Man we have this interaction between Data and Picard:

Data: Sir, Lieutenant LaForge's eyes are far superior to human biological eyes, true?

Picard: Mhmm.

Data: Then why are all human officers not required get their eyes replaced with cybernetic implants?

Data's phrasing here suggests to me that the option is available for officers if they choose it, it would also be in keeping with the Federation's policies of individual rights. That being said there is probably some medical risk with such procedures and they may come under the same law that bans genetic engineering.

If a Federation citizen wanted to could they replace a healthy organ or limb with a bionic one? If so why is the practice rather uncommon? Beta canon answers are acceptable.

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    Interesting question, but I guess the answer is that even in the 24th century people still believe that "if something ain't broken, don't fix it!".
    – Hans Olo
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 9:18
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    I think I remember that LaForges visor causes some kind of pain to him all the time, he learned to compensate (headache or somethink like that). I think this (beside the crude looking) would not be desirable by healty humans. Also I think it was said that only his brain can interpret the special multispectral input of the visor. I cannot remember that picards heart or Bariels transplants outperform the original organs.
    – Hothie
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 9:21
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    @Hothie I’m not sure how any reasonable person would consider wearing a VISOR to be “superior.” True, Geordi can see more than humans, but is seeing blobs of energy as good as “normal” vision? Likely not, as he complains to Tasha in “The Naked Now” about not seeing as she can. As for Picard, his artificial heart is definitely shown to be a liability in “Samaritan Snare” and “Tapestry.” Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 10:43
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    Genetic modification was outlawed, I wonder if bionic enhancement outside of medical procedures went the same way. Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 13:20
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    Does this include the Bynars? They remove parts of their brains and replace them with computers
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


This is one of those questions where answer can't be backed by much of the canonical nature. There are inferences and extrapolations, but nothing solid.

I would, however, consider this in the context of enhancements in broad sense - that is, including genetic augmentation. Federation prohibits genetic augmentation, but its getting murky on the subjects of it and the jurisdiction. Humans aren't allowed, definitely. However, there are strong indications it's not universal ban. Andorians allegedly meddled in genome heavily (however certain hints suggest it was limited to pre-Federation times only), Denobulans definitely did not think much of it and engaged in it routinely (If I remember correctly).

But then again, there was Darwin Genetic Research Station (this is the item the "jurisdiction" word from above applies. It seems that ban was Earth - or Sol - only).

The reason for the ban was widespread belief that such augmentations would produce superior human species with definitely inferior humanity. Spock's superior ability breeds superior ambition remark would be an excellent reasoning for the ban. And it is heavily inferred that every time Augments were defeated it happened primarily thanks to "vanilla" humans exploiting the superiority complex of the "superior beings". So this is understandably extremely undesirable trait of any Starfleet officer. Confidence in one's abilities in one thing, believing them to be ultimate is quite another.

And this may, also, be an explanation for implant augmentations. To put it in other words: a Starfleet officer needs to be aware of his limitations, and with implantation those boundaries shift enormously, which may lead to errors in judgement in any number of situations.

However, all this falls into the category of assumptions, as "mechanical" implants are part of medical technology available and availed of in Star Trek universe. Replacement limbs and organs are common, however they seem to be regarded as a trade-off, not an enhancement per se. And, most importantly, they are not mentioned in any way and moment as something in any way limited by any regulation.

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    It's very difficult to square all of this with the Prime Directive. "We will refrain from interfering in your cultural development - but unless your culture has the same attitudes about the relationship between medicine and pathology that were present in a handful of western societies on Earth while Gene Roddenberry was alive, you're banned from the Federation forever!"
    – tbrookside
    Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 3:54

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