Version:  1.3.
Last revised 09/22/02.
©1999, ©2000, ©2001, and ©2002 by Eliezer S. Yudkowsky.  All rights reserved.


What's this list for?  Articles, arguments, news, manifestos, Web links of interest; a place for ultratech-savvy friends and enemies of the Singularity to fight it out; a place of discussion for old Singularitarians and a way to introduce new Singularitarians to the crowd.  The four virtues of an SL4 post are Intelligence, Fun, Importance, and Future Shock.  Any post should have at least one.


List membership is open; new members may join automatically and post without moderation.  Oh, we'll warn you and eventually kick you off if you bore us, but we're guarding the horses, not the barn door.  And while posters must meet standards, readers don't have to meet any standards at all - anyone could be listening, so if you've got something private to say, take it to the Singularitarian list or send encrypted private emails.  List membership is extended to anyone who's interested in the Singularity or ultratechnology - not necessarily people who are pro-Singularity.

Topic list.

To be honest, nobody really uses these except JOIN, META, and occasionally TECH.  But do please try and change the subject line when you change the subject.  We don't want to miss a discussion of Friendly AI because it grew out of "VEGI:  Turnips and the Singularity".



On SL4, arbitrarily high levels of rationality are permitted.  If you've ever been shot down in a conversation for being too rational, you know what I mean.


I have no objection to flames, but flames aren't allowed to be boring.  Biting sarcasm and witty insults, please - not four-letter-words used as punctuation.

If you have something to say, don't phrase it in the form of a question.  This holds especially true for your first post.  Don't say:  "I'm new here, but wouldn't X be Y?"  Say:  "I object, because I think that X will be Y", or just "X will be Y."

If you have a genuine question, please consider sending it to me rather than the list, especially if it looks like a question about the basics.  If you have some question that looks blatantly obvious but isn't discussed anywhere - a "Well why didn't anyone think of this?" question - then please check with me first, because it almost certainly has been discussed already.  You may also want to check the "Indexed FAQ" in "Creating Friendly AI".

Crocker's Rules:
If you declare Crocker's Rules, other people don't need to worry about being tactful to you.  (You still need to worry about being tactful to them - Crocker's Rules only work one way.)

People who take advantage of Crockerians in boring or unintelligent ways still run the risk of being censored.  Intelligent posting is a requirement of the list, and someone else declaring Crocker's Rules can't except you from it.


To join, email with the words "subscribe sl4" in the body.  Please don't include any other text, such as signatures, in the message; it can confuse Majordomo.  And in case it's not clear, please replace "", in the above, with your actual email address.  (Yes, people have messed that up on a couple of occasions...)

One (strictly optional) list custom is the JOIN post, where you post whatever information about yourself you're willing to share and which we might be interested in.

Our high standards:

It is the explicit policy of this list not to rehash the basics.  SL4 is for advanced topics in futurism and technology.  If we've discussed it once before, or if it's something we think posters should already know, you may be courteously referred to the archives, or to another list.

Check your spelling.  Check your grammar.  Check your punctuation and capitalization.  Use apostrophes and commas.  Don't quote entire messages in your reply.  Don't use HTML.  Don't post one-line replies.  (If it's not worth a well-written paragraph, is it really worth posting?)  Don't send attachments to the list.  Around 200 people read this (as of September '02), so if it takes you one minute to save each reader two seconds, you've saved well over six minutes total.

Lurk for a week or read a few archived messages before you begin posting.

This is a science-literate mailing list.  If you're still unclear about whether humans evolved or were planted on Earth by flying saucers, you're welcome to read SL4, but you probably won't like what you read, and your first post will probably be your last.  There could be an exception to this rule.  We just haven't encountered it yet.

Sniper-based moderation

"I had assumed that the function of a moderator was more akin to a sheepdog herding the outlying members than a sniper picking off the fringe."
                -- Mike Deering inadvertantly sums up SL4's exact philosophy of moderation.
Posting to SL4 requires either a fair amount of intelligence and a fair amount of experience, or else a heck of a lot of intelligence.  If you're not there yet, you'll be asked not to post.  If this happens to you, bear in mind the following points:


Our archives may be found at: 
Please look through our archives and material online at, e.g., the Singularity Institute, before asking questions like "Isn't seed AI putting all our eggs in one basket?" or "Wouldn't an AI's subgoals overthrow its supergoals?"  There are some topics that keep popping up, and that's fine - but it's not okay for the same arguments to arise over and over.  Once a given opinion is posted, it has been used up, forever.  If you feel that someone needs to be reminded of that opinion, post the archive URL.

Archives accumulate wisdom and prevent us from retracing old ground.  Archives force us to find new arguments and new opinions because the old ones have been used up.  Those who ask questions that have been asked before shall be referred to the appropriate section of the list archives.  Please note that our list archives are searchable by Google.  Google is your friend.  Trust in Google.  Google is your Extended Long-Term Memory.  Google is the Source of All Knowledge.  Have you accepted Google into your heart?

Your post will become a permanent part of the Web and will be indexed by search engines.  Please bear this in mind.

Search the SL4 archives (powered by Google).


The SL4 list maintains an online IRC chat room.