It is regularly stated that the Borg's ultimate goal is achieving perfection. The Borg attempt to accomplish this by assimilating various species "biological and technological distinctiveness" and augmenting them with cybernetic implants.

However, due to the nature of biology, no biology is perfect (all biology eventually ages and dies), the Borg in its current state cannot survive without functional biological components. Meanwhile synthetics and technology don't have the same limitations; a malfunctioning implant can easily be repaired, upgraded, or replaced.

Why have the Borg not abandoned their biological components to become completely synthetic? Wouldn't being fully synthetic allow them to reach perfection?

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    With technological intervention (in the form of nanites) how do you know that biology ages and dies? The mere fact that the Borg homeworld has a population of 50 trillion(!) would strongly imply that their lifespan is remarkably high
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 18:55
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    There are Borg babies. In the first episode featuring the Borg they came across a Borg crèche. That would seem to indicate Borgs can reproduce. (Borg baby pic naaw so cute) Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 0:46
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    @Stevernator I believe those are babies of races that are taken, and put in maturation chambers to quickly grow into adults. This was explained on voyager when seven of nine takes care of those abandoned borg kids on the cube that was mostly destroyed Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 1:01
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    It was easier to film many actors with costumes than to produce many realistic CGI's of whatever the Borg would have looked like otherwise.
    – BenjaminF
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 1:33
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    According to Arturis in "Hope and Fear," Seven and Captain Janeway were going to "spend the rest of eternity as Borg." Arturis was a smart guy and likely knew a lot about the Borg. Perhaps he was exaggerating or trying to intimidate Janeway, or perhaps his statement was true. Maybe Borg Drones, despite their organic parts, don't die of natural causes. Apollo also claimed to be immortal, so it's certainly not impossible. Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 3:14

5 Answers 5


The conceit of the Star Trek universe is that there is something about 'life' that is special and simply can't be achieved artificially.

This premise is violated repeatedly, with:

  • the Soong-type androids (TNG)
  • nanites ("Evolution")
  • Exocomps ("The Quality Of Life")
  • the Enterprise itself ("Emergence")
  • Moriarty ("Ship in a Bottle")
  • the Voyager's EMH and
  • the Automated Personnel Units in the Delta Quadrant ("Prototype")....

But in every one of these cases, that level of sophistication is rare and/or accidental and cannot be reproduced on demand. They are the exception that proves the rule. In fact, this je ne sais quoi eludes the Borg. The entire subplot in "Descent" is about Lore attempting to recreate true artificial technological intelligence somehow, which demonstrates that the Borg don't have this technology already.

So, in short, the Borg haven't done this because they can't. And whatever they can do is not sufficiently alive or perfect, according to whatever their metric is.

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    All of the examples you give result in very good approximations of life, or at least sentience, but are missing some facet or another for them to be "perfect" duplications of life. That missing X-factor is what keeps the Borg from going full artificial. Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 14:19
  • Don't you mean "can be achieved artificially" rather than "can't be"/ You yourself give several examples of artificial life.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 10:41
  • @einpoklum: Well, no. My point is that Star Trek would have you believe it can't be done. And then they violate it several times. But those exceptions are exotic and can't be reproduced except under extraordinary circumstances. It's why there isn't an army of Data running every ship. Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 22:01
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    I am so happy with this description: AI and even really sophisticated computer systems in STOS and later series were both exceptional/accidental and plagued by dangerous, unexpected behavior which provides a rationale for humans to explore potentially dangerous places.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 9:07

All the imperfections you claim biology has either don't exist or also exist in technical components. It is also unclear what exactly the Borg's vision of 'perfection' is. Finally of course the continued assimilation of species to acquire their knowledge automatically introduces biological matter into the collective (whether they want it or not).

Biological components can be replaced and grown (see transplants and lab grown meat). Furthermore any component will age since aging is a physical process as much a biological one, material fatigue corrosion, and general wear and tear will kill anything after enough time. Biological aging can at least be undone with careful use nanites (which we know the Borg have) instead of replacing a whole component.

Again we're still not sure what the Borg mean by 'perfection' indeed their vision of perfection may include biological life in some way or require assimilated species to remain intact so to speak. Perhaps it requires that all resources be consumed at some point as part of their 'manifest destiny' thus requiring biological life.

Its also worth noting that in star trek biology is also capable of much more than it is in our universe just look at species 8472, the augments, the many telepathic species or voyagers gel packs.

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    "also unclear what exactly the Borg's vision of 'perfection' is." wrong it's Omega :) Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 12:33
  • It's worth noting that it can be implied that the Borg consider perfection to be humanoid, considering all their drones are in that form, as is the Queen (although it's debatable if she choose that form only when interacting with Humanoids).
    – SGR
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 13:32
  • @Dreamwalker The Omega molecules are not lifeforms.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 18:45

Your definition of the Borg semantically proves the point.

The Borg attempt to accomplish this by assimilating various species

Assimilating. Not supplanting. They are integration the species, which inherently means keeping some of the species as part of the Borg-assimilate.

and augmenting them with cybernetic implants.

An augmentation is supplementary. It improves on the original.

You can't have an augmentation without having the original (even if it's heavily altered).

If the Borg were purely synthetic, there'd be nothing left of the original, and therefore they are not augmenting species but supplanting them.

However, when the Borg assimilate an already fully synthetic species, that those particular Borg will be fully synthetic as well.

However, due to the nature of biology, no biology is perfect (all biology eventually ages and dies), the Borg in its current state cannot survive without functional biological components. Meanwhile synthetics and technology don't have the same limitations;

You're making a few too many assumption about Borg lifespans here.

It is not confirmed that a Borg-assimilate has a lifespan equal to or somwhere near the original species' lifespan.

Also, biological components have a very similar replacement method:

a malfunctioning implant can easily be repaired, upgraded, or replaced.

Biological cells do this all the time. It just happens that the lifespan of a biological cell is less than that of a synthetic component, but the principle of swapping out the faulty parts remains.

  • Your answer appears to be based on the OPs wording rather than any canon evidence. Do you have any canon evidence to support this or anything to support that the OPs wording is correct?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 12:09
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    @TheLethalCarrot: OP's question is inherently illogical. He defines the Borg in a way that inherently entails them not being fully synthetic, and then wonders why they are not fully synthetic. OP uses the mentioned definition to argue why it's a reason for the Borg to become fully synthetic, which is the opposite of what the definition actually states.
    – Flater
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 12:13
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    Right but there's no reason to assume that 1) The OPs definition is correct and 2) The OP knows the exact meaning of those words.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 12:15
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    @TheLethalCarrot: 1) I'm responding why OP's pro-full-synthetic argument is actually an anti-full-synthetic argument, which in turn defeats the basis for the question altogether. Without this particular assumption, the question is moot. 2) Exactly why I posted this answer.
    – Flater
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 12:16
  • There's also one example (and the only one we know of on-screen) of the Borg assimilating a synthetic being: Data. And they augmented him with biological components. Of course, it wasn't a "full" assimilation as he retained his free will.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 19:44

Fan theory only.

“Resources” is the key. In a galaxy full of life, biological lifeforms are an abundant resource. The Borg use this resource as the platform on which they build their drones; Rather than needing to find raw inorganic material for the entire drone and manufacturing them from scratch. It is faster, and easier to assimilate the biological automaton as the base to attach Borg implants.

The mass production to build a drone population would also seem to require centralization and factory manufacturing theory. Assimilation follows the Borg’s decentralized/nonspecialized functionality. It is done on the spot by any drone.

I suppose they function somewhat like a virus, where the metaphorical “organism” is a whole society and the “cells” are the population. They exploit the same biological advantage a virus uses to replicate as well. To extend the metaphor, procreation is a much more difficult task and requires significant resources, even on a cellular level such as mitosis. This process would be akin to manufacturing. Oppositely, viruses use very little resources themselves in their lifecycle. Instead they replicate by hijacking an infected cell’s internal structure and processes, re-tasking them to create copies. It eventually destroys the cell and the copies then go on to spread the infection and repeat the process. By not needing to have the structures and mechanisms to procreate themselves internally, viruses are more efficient. In the same way, the Borg are actually more efficient by assimilating, than by manufacturing or even cultivating biological drones on mass.

It also aligns with their two primary goals; unifying everything into the collective, and adding technological uniqueness to the collective.

Furthermore, I think the OP is mistaken to consider perfection to be a form (the all synthetic Borg). I believe perfection to the Borg is more akin to the philosophical perfection of a clock; where all the cogs function in perfect sync and for a single purpose achieved only by the collective functionality.

Resistance is futile.


As almost an aside to the other answers, consider voyagers bio-gel circuitry. Biology and technology (in star trek, and arguably in real life) are not too dissimilar. Electrical impulses move along paths to perform functions. In voyager, the bio-packs are FASTER than current starfleet technology.

Most biological systems (all, as far as I can tell) have had significantly more time to evolve than the technology those biological systems make themselves.

So, it would seem that augmentation, rather than wholesale replacement or complete artificial construction, would be the most efficient means of approaching their current limit of perfection.

  • But isn’t the rate of improvement (“evolution”) for technology a much faster process than any biological evolution? For instance, a piece of software can have multiple releases and upgrades in a 5 year period. The evolutionary rate is at fastest generational (13 to 40 years to even start). Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 19:39
  • @PV22 The evolutionary rate of humans. V. natriegens has a generational time of 10 minutes. Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 20:28
  • @PV22 I could see that. In universe it just seems like they try to make that point a lot (tech vs biology). Thanks for the feedback! Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 21:44

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