Good debuggers allow you to “step over” or “step into” code as needed. There are some programming languages (I’m looking at you, Scala) where “stepping in” is really asking for it! It’s not only turtles all the way down, it’s an incomprehensible and infinite regression into the void.
Fiction, as a rule, “steps over” a lot more than it “steps into”. This is one reason why time never really works in fiction. In fiction, nobody goes to the bathroom, nobody sleeps, and people never talk at the same time as each other. In fiction, cause leads directly to effect, and usually it’s a childhood trauma that explains every thing that ever goes wrong.
I’m thinking about this because I’m toying with some ideas for a new short novel. One of the ideas is the common SF gambit of a “deep space” colonization mission. The humans are in stasis. The voyage may last for a century or more. Alpha Centauri is a long ways away!
Such stories step right over all that. They kind of have to. It would be incredibly boring to slog through a century or more of humans in stasis, eh? The longest I’ve ever seen it linger over it was in the movie ‘Alien’. Maybe a whole three minutes if I remember correctly.
Idea number two is related – just how incredibly vulnerable we are when we are asleep. Again, this is something that fiction generally steps right over. Who wants to see a lot of snoring, right?
Yet there are interesting experiments conducted on sleepers. The science of sleep can be fascinating. Scientists are now also beginning to be able to re-created images from people’s minds through equipment and software.
Sleepers in stasis, dozing away for a century or more. How much could be learned from them, about them, in that period of time, by some diligent observer/scientist!
Especially if that observer was a machine, or machines, programmed to learn, to learn all they can about humans.
What might such machines step into? What might they learn, and what might they do?
The novel would take place mostly – or maybe even entirely – during the period when the humans are in stasis.