Learning Skills/ImplantsThe nature of learning skills was that they give no direct game benefit, only a second order benefit in terms of your speed of learning. Apparently under the old learning skill system the best way to start playing Eve was to create a character, queue up the learning skills, and then don't log back into the game except to queue more skills for a couple days. Cybernetics is pretty much the same. Cybernetics lets you plug in implants that increase your attributes, which drive your learning speed, which you should do as soon as possible in terms of optimizing your growth. Surprisingly a number of the articles I saw on alts just assume you know this. The exception is Gevlon Goblin's guide to making a market alt (which is good, but slightly dated now):
"The first step in the way of building a trader (or rather any) character is to learn cybernetics. If you are a new player, lvl 1 is enough. This skill allows you to get implants that speed up your skillpoint collection. The +2 implants costs around 2M ISK, money you don't have as newbie. If it's not your first account and you are not a total newbie, I'd strongly suggest to learn Cybernetics 4 to be able to use +4 implants"
I'd alter that a bit if you aren't making a dedicated trader alt. If you're a new player and you didn't come in on a buddy invite then contact someone in your player corporation - and if you didn't join a player corp do that now (Eve University, Brave, RvB, or our own Aideron Robotics). If you're absolutely new it is worth it to make a simple deal: you give me a buddy invite, I start over on the buddy invite, we split the money from the PLEX you get. Use that PLEX to buy (amongst other things) +4 implants. Note that some new player corps also apparently give out low grade implants free.
Basically, Cybernetics 4 (75 hours of training) will pay off in 62 days (with some variation based on your mapping). So Cybernetics 4 is not worth it for your two-PLEX-and-done alt, but for pretty much anything else go do it first.
But is that really good for the game?
An Alternative CyberneticsA simple change would be as follows:
All new pilots start with Cybernetics 1, just like they start with racial frigate 3 and the like. Lore wise this represents knowledge needed to get the capsuleer clone implants.
Skill requirements for +4 learning implants (those with attribute bonuses only) changes to only need Cybernetics 1. Other skill requirements do not change. For instance, Cybernetics 4 is still required for the High Grade pirate implants, and Cybernetics 5 is still required for Mindlinks.
I expect that CCP will go farther and radically change the attribute/remap/skill linked mechanisms, but this would be a simple way to get new players going without taking away the risk vs reward of losing your implants in PvP.
Edit: updated thanks to correction from maxpowerdup in the comments below.