Future shock has long been the stuff of science fiction. I will not annoy you with ridiculous, cause-and-effect-ignoring time travel into the past. In this article we will only examine ignorant time travel where somehow the observer manages to ignore time’s passage for a while, until they are in the future. Ignorant time travel can include sleeping (I’m just being complete!), hibernation, suspended animation and cryogenics(corpsicles, anyone?). Most likely humans are expected to get to the future through suspended animation or cryogenics. If the human goes far enough into the future, future shock could set in.
Some science and tech can be extrapolated. Like Moore’s Law of increasing computer power. But even this longstanding dynamo is slowing and will grind to a halt once fundamental quantum physics limits are reached. But something like a laser can seem to come out of nowhere. Einstein came up with the idea for the Stimulated Emission of Radiation (what are the last three letters in Laser?) and about a half a century later a scientist produced a laser using this theory. So some of scientific advance is refinement and some of it comes out of left field.
Cultural, sociological and political changes can come from almost anywhere and are not subject to linear extrapolations. All the unanticipated things that can happen mean that future shock has a bigger and bigger likelihood of happening the further one travels into the future. So, are our hands tied or is there some way we can experiment with future shock even today. I believe there is a way.
Bears and other animals are known to hibernate for months in the winter. Unfortunately not enough happens over the winter for bears to be in much bewilderment from future shocks. My experiments (if the government would fund me) plan to accelerate the change for the bears.
While the bear hibernates in its cave, myself and a team will make a bear proof maze that stretches from the lone cave entrance to quite a big territory. It will be so big that the bear will really have to think if it is going to get free and find the food that is necessary for its survival. This could be studied as a sort of life threatening future shock.
Experiment two would also make the bear work for its food. Most people know of the fall salmon run when that fish returns to its spawning ground from the sea. Bears take advantage of this season and stand in the river by small falls, catching the exhausted fish as they try to jump up them. In fact bears are known to catch enough salmon to fatten themselves up for hibernation.
Instead of letting the studied bear have its easy prey, my scientific team would put bear proof covers over all the easy points to kill spawning salmon, like shallow water and falls in the subject bear’s territory. This would be a hibernation threatening thing that could lead to a life threatening future shock.
The third experiment I would try on the bears would be to divide its territory into three and put three other bears’ markings in each area. It would be necessary to place urine and scat of the three other bears in the right spots. Trees the other bears had used for scratching their backs could be inside the territory.
That third bear would awaken to a whole different society. One where future bears got along in a smaller territory. With no space for itself, it would be interesting to examine what the original bear would do. Would it try to fight for its full territory? Or would it move on?
The last experiment isn’t a future shock experiment but a “displacement shock” experiment. It’s as easy as it sounds. We would just move a hibernating bear to a different territory. It could be done in an already occupied territory or two bears could be made to switch places.
Through bears we can gain a better understanding of future shock. Together with watching the bear reactions that are successful we might figure out the best strategies for coping with future shock.