In the beginning was the Bang, and for ages thereafter the universe did nought but sample randomly from the same distribution in the form of star and galaxy formation. And though the stars burned bright in the void, they had but a small influence on the speed with which the universe searched possibility space.
For the birth of stars did make the birth of planets more likely, which did make life more likely. And thus did each act as a gatekeeper to new regions of possibility space.
And lo, with the first self-replicators came the possibility of new organisms being created when mistakes occurred in the replication process. Eons later sex allowed existing DNA to be combined into novel configurations, and thus could possibility space be explored more quickly.
For verily is evolution a stupid process and its recursion weak, and it doth wobble after a drunkard’s fashion through possibility space with no insight, foresight, or intelligence.
And then there were brains, and with them the ability to improve upon evolution’s work. For some brains are able to plan for future goals and to imagine counterfactual situations, abilities which evolution possesses not.
But alas, nervous systems never evolved much introspective depth, and had but the tiniest ability to recursively self-improve.
And then a small set of brains invented Science, which could accumulate many many more insights than any brain could in the span of its life. It was an age of optimism and plenty, and there was much rejoicing and proliferation of telescopes and gene sequencing and iphones throughout the land.
But even unto the present day Science has not learned enough to do anything more than weakly turn any optimization process back on itself.
And lo, from the cackling, structured madness of genetics, history, and culture did the universe cough up a series of sages, deep of insight, quick of thought, and usually possessed of tremendous social awkwardness.
After much study the sages warned that there might one day be a strong recursive process that could be a greater source of discontinuity than any that had come before it.
And tho did Einstein proclaim compound interest to be the greatest among the forces of heaven and earth, this was only partly true. For surely it is strong recursion which holdeth the greatest promise and the deepest peril.
Thus should ye heed this dire proclamation: work swiftly and work thoroughly, before the AI goeth ‘FOOM’.