A new bioengineered medical device was designed to treat people with a severe loss of neurologic muscle control. It affords a rare opportunity to clearly see some of the hidden relationships between mind, body, and designed interfaces.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported on a 58-year-old woman with normal cognition, but who lost voluntary muscle control due to severe amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This woman with locked-in syndrome received a remarkable new treatment—a fully implanted brain-computer interface that links her brain’s thoughts to the outside world.1
The term “interface” is rather common, but many people don’t know exactly what one is. A recent paper by Frank Sherwin of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and myself detailed the elements of a physiological interface and their vital importance.2 We showed how our immune system actually functions as an interface between our human body and the microbial world. We confirmed a fundamental principle of design in general: For two autonomous, automated entities with distinct boundaries to work together, they must be connected by an interface with three distinctive elements: 1) physical authentication mechanisms, 2) non-physical standardized protocols, and 3) a mutually accessible physical medium to both entities.
Protocols are rules that govern the exchange of information or resources. The common medium has characteristics accessible to both parties of an exchange so they can relate to each other—like a translator fluent in both English and Russian.
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