The Beauty of Bootstrapping

Bootstrapping is the solution to the paradox it is named after.  It got its name from the impossible scenario of pulling oneself over a wall using the straps of one's own boots.  Practically, it refers to the process of kick starting a cycle that seemingly has no logical beginning.  For example, the chicken-egg paradox is solved using the bootstrapping technique: starting with a chicken-precursor and the right evolutionary conditions, the percentage of chicken genes will slowly increase until the first 100% chicken egg is laid.

Booting up your computer
Ever wonder why it's called booting up?  Software in your computer is loaded by and runs on other software.  For example, this website is a script that is interpreted by your browser which is running on your operating system.  There is nothing that tells your computer how to run software aside from other software.  If only software can run software, then how does the first piece of software run?  When you push the button to turn on your computer, it provides electricity to the CPU and initializes a hardware-based program.  The hardware-based program gives instructions to the computer on how to read basic software.  This process snowballs into loading more and more complex software until eventually your operating system is loaded.

Cell Differentiation
When new cells are created in your body, each cell is specialized to serve a certain function.  Despite each cell containing the same DNA, the cells in your hand differ from cells in your blood differ from cells in your bones.  Each specialized type of cell has a different shape and protein production depending on its function.  It's easy to imagine how a fully grown organism can create these differentiated cells.  What's more intriguing is how a single-celled zygote (the sperm-egg combo) can have enough variance to eventually transform into a complex organism with many uniquely differentiated cells.  Imagine a tiny, symmetrical looking blob developing into the vast asymmetry of a human body, using nothing more than chemical processes.  It starts with minor variance in chemical concentrations during a cell division.  This compounds after many divisions to form more and more complex and varied cells.  Not only is the process of creating a human bootstrapped, but the blueprints of this bootstrapped process are they themselves bootstrapped and baked over billions of years of evolution.  By building layer upon layer of abstraction, evolution can design something incredibly complex starting with only humble scraps.

Technological Singularity
This is the hypothetical birth of Artificial Intelligence; not through ingenious software design, but by iteratively building upon itself through small recursive improvements.  You don't have to design a system to be as smart as you, rather one that can build a system that is slightly more intelligent than itself.  Although the improvements would be small, they would happen quickly, resulting in an exponential explosion of intelligence like man-kind has never before witnessed.