SL4 Survey Results

Back in September 2006 I posted a survey to the SL4 mailing list hoping to determine the demographics of the list, since a few people were wondering just who was reading, and who was interested in the Singularity.

Sl4 is a mailing list for high technology ideas. SL stands for Shock Level, which categorises technology based on the amount of “future shock” it generates in individuals. Shock Level 4 essential represents the Singularity (Jupiter Brains, Powers, complete mental revision, ultraintelligence, posthumanity, Alpha-Point computing, Apotheosis, the total evaporation of “life as we know it.”).

So, months later (the next year even since it’s 2007 now) I finally got around to compiling the responses and have put together some graphs and observations.

SL4 Demographics Survey Results


#1   Jack on 01.18.07 at 2:47 am

It would be interesting to see if there are any unusual correlations between answers. There will of course be many obvious ones (someone under 18 is probably a student, for example), but there might be something of note – say, that the people who had a lot of programming experience tended to rate one existential threat as being much more likely than another.

#2   Joel on 01.18.07 at 2:09 pm

Yep, that definitely be something cool to investigate. I’ll try and do it when I get the time.

Felt I should at least put up the basic results since it’s been so long!

#3   Olie NcLean on 01.19.07 at 5:30 am

Wow, thanks for putting it together in such an accessible form!

I was surprised to see how many respondants had contributed materially (54%!). I was initially surprised at the seemingly low rate of vegetarianism, however, given this:

“One such study, from market research firm RoperASW, shows that between 1978 and 1998, the number of strict vegetarians (those who never eat meat, poultry or fish) remained stable at 1 percent. Another set of surveys, sponsored by the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), conducted in 1994, 1997 and 2000, show the number of vegetarians in the U.S. was 1 percent in 1994 and 1997, and 2.5 percent in 2000. While, those numbers may seem to suggest that the percentage of vegetarians more than doubled between 1997 and 2000, the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. So we can’t be sure whether the increase is real.”

I’d say that SL4s are somewhat more likely than the average American to be vegetarian, but not anything like the link with, say, computer science.

Also interesting that the SL4 gateway is so strongly technical – I don’t know how much we can read into a vague description, but I’d guess that technicality of some sort might be good for acquainting the relevant people to SL4-dom.

#4   Joel on 01.22.07 at 1:50 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Olie – I’ll include the paragraph you quote in the original article when I get a chance. 🙂

I was also particularly surprised at how many people contributed materially and the apparently low link with Vegetarianism.

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