The short answer is yes, because just like the OP noted, this is already happening to some extent with current designs, most noticeably the linerless FRN models. As you push a knife closer to its limit, the least rigid thing between the applied force (your hand) and the reacting force (the part of the knife stuck in something) will start to elastically deform. The "breaking" part is where you keep pushing beyond the elastic limit of the part in question, which might just bend if it is a "soft" material (first pic), or might break if it is a "hard" material (second pic). If you designed such a mechanism with a force threshold (the force that causes it to displace) above that of current offerings, then you just designed a stronger knife in general, without a need for the displacement feature. More likely, however, the displacement feature would require that the force threshold was much lower than that of current offerings. So the result would be that you could accomplish fewer tasks, but be assured your knife would let you know before it was close to "breaking." You could call it "The Tap Out."

Just one more thing to note, the argument against the naysayers of "hard use" folders is contained within the shovel/spatula example. No one has bothered to address the issue of a tool useful for digging rocks AND for cooking eggs because these things are rarely being done at the same time. We do, however, have a spork, because people are often thrust into situations were having a fork and having a spoon is useful in close succession. Is it the best fork in the world? No, but the reduction in forky performance is accepted for the inclusion of a spoon. A hard use folder follows this same principle, because you CAN BE (often or seldom, depending) thrust into situations where having a knife and having a pry bar is useful in close succession. So for some, it is useful to know how a particular knife will do when pressed into service as a pry bar. It is irrelevant for others to say "well I NEVER find myself in that situation, so why is this even necessary?" I can acknowledge, though, that most people concerned with hard use folders just want to feel badass opening letters.