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Far in the future physical clocks and calendars have become obsolete as all humans now how have auto-syncing cyber clocks inside their brains. Every single human has undergone this process except one individual. How is this individual able to find out what the date and time is without asking anyone? Assume nothing else has changed other than the above cyber time implant except for other obvious things like other types of cyberization that came with the clock thing. This individual is also unable to access the servers that keep track of the time without having been cyberized as physical computers now require inputs directly from your brain to work.

Generalizing this outside of humans too, if a civilization is keeping track of time in some way, but somebody without access to their method of time keeping enters the picture, how can this individual find out what the date is in terms of the civilizations date and time in order to keep track of it themselves purely by observation and clever thinking and not by accessing their servers. The individual needs to do this in order to integrate with the society and not raise any suspicions that they do not have access to the time.

Edit: This individual does indeed have the ability to build a calendar watch to the specifications required for keeping the time as soon as they are able to figure out the date and time. So keeping track of it is not an issue after it's discovered.

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    $\begingroup$ What is the purpose of keeping track of time? It seems like it could be a silly question, but the purpose behind tracking time has a marked effect on the tools we use to track it. If your one human is a farmer, and merely wants to know the right time to plant seeds, the method of telling time is going to be vastly different from an individual operating on the stock market alongside high speed traders. If the purpose of telling time is to affect how one interacts with others, the expectations of others will be very important. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 5 '18 at 2:39
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Here are some ideas:

  • Location of the sun, moon, stars, etc. will give both date and time if he's well acquainted with this method.
  • He could simply keep track of the date mentally -- some people are good at this.
  • He could tell time by how hungry/tired he is, if his schedule is well regulated (and by the state of his bowels if his days are really well regulated)
  • He could use his hand as a sundial. Whenever he needs to know the time, he faces north, holds his hand palm upward, and extends his middle finger vertically. The shadow tells him the time. With this method, he could get pretty accurate if he has a good sense of direction and memorizes the times correlating to different wrinkles on his palm.
  • He could memorize people's schedules (i.e. John leaves for work at 7am, the school bus arrives here at 7:35, Donna walks the dog at 10:15, Lewis gets home for lunch around 12:30, Lauren returns home from Karate practice at 2:45, etc..)

Hope this helps!

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Clocks and calendars don't become obsolete because humans don't need to look at them. These implants as well as all other machines still need to contact servers to sync time, and so can that human. If he has internet access, he can simply wget any time server.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry I was unclear about it I edited the question to clarify. I'm trying to find an interesting trick to do this rather than an obvious fact. $\endgroup$ – LDR Aug 3 '18 at 21:33
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Go to a movie theater and wait till for people to arrive and buy a ticket. From the advertised starting times of the various movies, you should be able to figure out roughly what time it is.

For day of week, you can keep a watch on a local church to see when the crowds arrive.

For day of month and year, go back to the movie theater and take notes on the opening dates of each upcoming movies then wait around until you hear someone successfully buying a ticket to that show.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks that seems to work. I also thought of looking at expiration dates on bread and other products that expire in a very short amount of time to pinpoint the date (assuming they're still there). Do you have any idea for the general case though? $\endgroup$ – LDR Aug 3 '18 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ This answer is on the right track. There might be some issues though with movie and other times not being advertised anywhere except their version of an internet. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Aug 3 '18 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ A more generalized version of this solution would involve asking questions, not specifically about the current time but rather about the scheduling of upcoming events, then watching others abide by those schedules. Walk into a daycare center and ask what time can I drop a child off at tomorrow. Then watch when other parents drop off their children. The real trick is not determining what time or day it is. It is keeping track of the time once you know a starting point. For that, you will probably still need a watch. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Aug 3 '18 at 21:57
  • $\begingroup$ @HenryTaylor Do you want to add your comment as an answer for the general case? $\endgroup$ – LDR Aug 4 '18 at 2:06
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  • Go to the train station. Ask when and from which platform the next train to some nearby city goes. Go to the platform, notice when the train departs. Watch the announcements for delays, and adjust if necessary. (This may not get you the date, but will give you the time).

  • If you have the time, travel to New York City, in winter. In the evening, go to Time Square, and watch the ball. If it drops, it's Jan 1, 00:00. Listen to bystanders, someone is going to say "Happy XXXX", where XXXX is the current (new) year.

  • Turn on the radio. Wait for the hourly news. Note the time and date.

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  • $\begingroup$ that last idea is pretty good for finding the year reliably, thanks! combined with the top answer this finds the date and time fully. $\endgroup$ – LDR Aug 4 '18 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Eulb but what about "without looking at a device?" $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 4 '18 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ @ronjohn sorry i meant second last (new year) $\endgroup$ – LDR Aug 4 '18 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn You can always watch (or just listen) to the crowd instead of looking at the ball. $\endgroup$ – Abigail Aug 4 '18 at 21:19
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If your future is still somewhat religious, get yourself to the nearest church.

Churches have a regular schedule of canonical hours. Often bells ring out. Mosques, have the the call to prayer five times a day. (I'm going to use Catholic Church examples for the rest of the answer, but most religious institutions have a similar setup).

Time of the year...Churches have well advertised feasts like Christmas and Easter. They do also have a list of feasts and saints days for every day of the year. So you just have to hope your church has not gone digital and find yourself a Church Missal (which has a handy list of feastdays for a number of years into the future). You then just have to sit through one church service to find out the day.

And for the year...if you can wait a couple of months, you can wait until 6 days after the Christmas celebrations and see what Year is displayed during the New Year Celebrations! If you are in a bit of a rush, oh! The Church service will say it!

"Today is the feast of St.Michael in the year 20XX of our Lord".

For the time...Normally the church services are at a set time but could technically start early/late. I would assume that the more traditional churches would still retain all the liturgy services of the day

I would also recommend waiting till a nearby clocktower struck 12 (but those towers have probably been removed).

Many different nonreligious ways of finding the exact time of day. Easiest would be using your shadow at noon. Another easy way would be to hang around an office block in the late afternoon. When there is a sudden influx of people leaving...you know it's 5pm (or whatever knocking off time your world has).

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Before internal cyber-linked brain implants became reliable, everyone used the AlexaNet to learn the time. They just ask "Alexa, what time is it?" and she answers through their bone-conducting cpu patch.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, AOOEAGUO! If you have a moment, please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods, and how we do things here. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Aug 4 '18 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ While this is an interesting speculation, it doesn't actually answer the question asked. Please edit your answer to correct this. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Aug 4 '18 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ The OP's question specifically preculdes asking anyone and anything the question. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 4 '18 at 2:44
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Basically, look at records of events immediately after they are created:

  • Make a new file on your computer, and immediately look at the "date created" info.

  • Related, a computer still needs an API to programmatically access the date and time. You can easily write your own clock program.

  • Send an e-mail to yourself and check the date/headers.

  • Buy something or use an ATM and look at the time on the receipt.

  • Watch the feed from a security camera that imprints the date and time.

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