In re-reading JHK’s World Made By Hand (WMBH) novel A History Of The Future for my mapping project, it made me think again about how the legal process might devolve as things in general go pear shaped, and in a broader sense, how folks will handle these losses.
With regards to the legal process – what will happen when resources become limited, and basic things like exotic forensic investigation are not possible? The tricky bit here is that if we are to go back to a level of 1950s or even 1850s crime investigation, we will still (at least for a short while) have memories of exotic CSI-like technologies like DNA sequencing with huge databases, voice recognition, and video surveillance to help convict (or free) people accused of crimes. What happens when a known technology exists, but is no longer possible to be used in routine investigations, due to communication, cost, or infrastructure failures?
Like many other things in the WMBH (of whatever lower energy version of a future you chose), it is going to be a lot harder going down from ‘peak technology’ to a lower plateau of energy usage and technology. I recall hearing about a psychology experiment where a fictional person’s income rose from something like 50, 100, 120 and then to 150K, versus a change from 150 K, to 130 K, to 100 K, and then to 100 K, and although the net amount received was less in the first case, people felt worse in the second case, because of the decline.
This process is like aging; as we get older, our bodies begin to betray us in novel (and yet predictable!) ways, and we have to cope with the reality that we won’t live forever, and yes, we will die. On a personal basis, this is quite real, and no amount of bargaining will convince you otherwise. One morning you wake up, and your vision is going; another, you can’t run as fast as you used to, or you start to see gray in your hair. No matter how much you try, your body will start to fail, and eventually, fail in a big way.
For societies (especially such as ours, which worship youth and youthfulness), this is a bit trickier, because even as people die, we have generally believed that things will always get better, in spite of any small personal setbacks along the way. At one point, however, our society won’t have the capability of doing routine DNA tests, paternity tests (!), or basic forensics (like toxicology reports), except for in a few extraordinary cases. What happens then, and how will we handle it?
A few questions:
- How do you cope with concrete examples of decline in your personal world?
- What loss of technology will irk people the most? The loss of the Internet, hot water, cheap food, and video games are guaranteed to happen, but what will really upset folks the most?
- How can we prepare for the decline? “Collapse early, and avoid the rush,” is a classic strategy; are there any others? Can we live believing in a bright future plus prepare for the worst, or will this just strain our cognitive dissonance filter to the breaking point?