In a great post at Technology Review last week, John Pavlus explained that the future of technology like Google Glass—where instead of taking a picture by telling the glasses to take a picture, you simply wink—might get too close to the body for our comfort:
The assumption driving these kinds of design speculations is that if you embed the interface–the control surface for a technology–into our own bodily envelope, that interface will “disappear”: the technology will cease to be a separate “thing” and simply become part of that envelope. The trouble is that unlike technology, your body isn’t something you “interface” with in the first place. You’re not a little homunculus “in” your body, “driving” it around, looking out Terminator-style “through” your eyes. Your body isn’t a tool for delivering your experience: it is your experience. Merging the body with a technological control surface doesn’t magically transform the act of manipulating that surface into bodily experience. I’m not a cyborg (yet) so I can’t be sure, but I suspect the effect is more the opposite: alienating you from the direct bodily experiences you already have by turning them into technological interfaces to be manipulated.
Think about this scenario: You see someone at a party you like; his social profile is immediately projected onto your retina–great, a 92% match. By staring at him for two seconds, you trigger a pairing protocol. He knows you want to pair, because you are now glowing slightly red in his retina screen. Then you slide your tongue over your left incisor and press gently. This makes his left incisor tingle slightly. He responds by touching it. The pairing protocol is completed.
I honestly don't know which future is more likely: The one where we recoil from wearable computers as a kind of sensation-based uncanny valley, or the one where we embrace wearable computers because they make everything more convenient. It seems that our bodies can become used to all kinds of modifications, but it also seems that we might appreciate our powerful computers better when they're at arm's length from us.