Glass has experienced such resistance because, subconsciously, people look at the wearer and can’t help but feel that that there is something amiss. When you see someone with a cane, a wheelchair, or even in certain venues sunglasses, it’s human nature to immediately seek out the reason. Sara Hendren, a leading thinker in adaptive technology design, has a motto: “all technology is assistive technology.” And technology designed poorly, she says, is a flag that marks us as “culturally designated as needing special attention, as being particularly, grossly abnormal.”
This marker can impose a “sick role,” a term coined by 20th-century Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons that denotes exemption from society and “sanctioned deviance.” When people see an asymmetrical, vaguely medical-looking body augmentation—even something as technologically advanced as Glass—the “sick role” detective work is applied. Something must be wrong. People are also scared deep-down that assistive technology allows for unfair advantages. There’s a sense that such technologies might turn their wearers into something that’s no longer entirely human.