One type of vicious circle is when you can’t do X unless you first do Y, but in order to do Y, you have to first do X.  Which is impossible.

And yet anyone who figures out a way to do X is bootstrapping.  Which is admirable.  On a computer, the process of booting is bootstrapping:  a computer can’t process information until the computer has been programmed how to process information; you can’t program the computer to process information until it has been programmed to process information.

The solution is that a few instructions have to be hardwired into the computer and triggered by clock ticks–electrical pulses–which handle the transition from a computer following physical laws to programmed laws.  Once the computer can start programming itself (in however minor a fashion), it can so with increasing levels of sophistication based on the programs that each successively smaller and less sophisticated program feeds to it. Bootstrapping, then, depends on finding one very small loophole and exploiting it.

Sometimes you can reason your way to that loophole.  Sometimes you can’t.  Reasoning your way to a loophole faster and more efficiently, though, seems to be a skill that it’s possible to pick up.  We all know that one person who seems to be able to do everything perfectly the first time.  They don’t try to brute-force bootstrapping, finding that loophole by chance.  They know how to look for loopholes–and some methods on how to exploit them.  That’s their secret, I think.

Like this blog?  Check this out:  “Something borrowed, something blue, something terrible will happen to you.” Is it supernatural?  Or has Bud’s paranoia finally won? A supernatural suspense novelette.