What’s That Soph?

So, I hear you like demographics. Or, at least, the comments on the last post tell me you like demographics.

Describing the constituent species of the Empire can be a mite tricky, depending on exactly how you define things – leaving aside any nasty outworlder prejudices about the status of neogens or uplifts, some species – relevantly, the mezuar and chiril-{n,m}, don’t have identities which lend themselves to headcount, and thus various approximations must be used.

And complicating things further, of course, is that the Empire’s immigration procedures don’t give a lump of species-appropriate excretions what species you happen to be, which leads to, oh, just over 8% of the population being “other”.

But given that, here’s the rough breakdown in a nice, user-friendly pie chart:

And here is the same data in a table, giving you what those percentages translate to in terms of approximate population numbers out of the Empire’s roughly 2.57 trillion sophonts:

chiril-{n,m}unconventional identity0.36%9,252,000,000
mezuarunconventional identity1.39%35,723,000,000

You may note that even the arthál, with the smallest demographic footprint due to their relatively recent creation and source population of fandom enthusiastic enough to change species, still manage to outpopulate Earth.

And that with 173 billion kaeth around… well, let’s just say the Legions don’t have any trouble recruiting.

Question: Frequency of Life

And one more:

How about approx. population density/sapient life occurrence frequency/percentage of races successfully achieved spaceflight without rendering themselves extinct etc. of Associated Worlds?

Well, now. If you were to compare the number of species around the place in the Worlds to the total number of star systems connected, what you would get is something on the order of one sophont species per 40 to 60 star systems. Once you eliminated all the digisapiences, neogens, post-technological speciation, polytaxic species, nomads, and suchlike that complexify the issue, anyway. (95% to 98% of those haven’t rendered themselves extinct; it’s rare that people manage to screw up that completely, especially once starflight is available, but the ones that have are rather prominent in the news and history books for obvious reasons. Maybe 25% of them had interplanetary flight/in-system development when contacted.)

Of course, that’s completely non-representative.

The Far Horizon Probes that Ring Dynamics and the Exploratory Service use to decide where and when to expand the stargate plexus are programmed with certain biases, mostly towards interesting things. Like, say, the blue-white giant star Leytra in the middle of the Ringstars constellation, or the Eye-of-Night black hole, both unique features. But also, always, the signs of intelligent life (which, of course, further biases it towards species advanced enough to produce radio signals or other features observable across the light-years).

So that’s not the number of species spread over 10,000 systems, because the 10,000 systems connected to the Worlds are spread across a volume of space – an oblate spheroid with axes roughly 3,300 ly by 4,100 ly by 2,000 ly – that contains maybe 100,000,000 star systems. So, the prevalence of sophont life is more like 1 per 400,000 star systems in the aggregate. (I’m erring to the high end, here, since pre-technological star systems are effectively invisible except at close range.)

Local population density varies widely throughout the Worlds, of course, just like it does in the greater Galaxy. (Some bubbles are life-rich, some are less so, some have been scoured entirely clean of life by, say, supernovae and gamma-ray bursters. Plus, of course, the inner and outer thirds of the galaxy tend to be life-poor compared to the central band: the former because of the high radiation levels near the galactic core, and the latter because of the lack of necessary elements.) But that’s the average, and the Worlds bubble is… average, maybe a little on the high side, by galactic standards.


PDISCLAIMER: All population figures found herewithin should be considered provisional and contested.

Ongoing controversies exist where the correct measurement of population figures is concerned, including:

  • Accounting of clone families;
  • Accounting of fork families, both synchronized (cikrieth) and desynchronized, and the measurement of repeated non-persistent forks;
  • Accounting of group intellects, including both true hive-mind species (such as the hjera and cusaron) and independent Fusions, representing single minds in a multiplicity of bodies, and collective consciousnesses (such as the Eldraeic Transcend), representing multiple independent minds sharing only specific layers; as well as multiple intermediate and overlapping cases;
  • Accounting of collegiate-intelligence species, such as the embatil and aklaknak;
  • Accounting of naturally fork/merge capable species, such as the codramaju;
  • Accounting of biologically casted species in which only a single caste or a subset of castes is sophont, such as the vlcefc, or the gender-based equivalent;
  • Accounting of polysapic species possessing multiple natural minds acting in accord, such as the múrast and voctonari;
  • Accounting for members of species not possessing sophoncy at all points during their lifespan, including but not limited to the majority of r-selected species;
  • Accounting for presently-inactivate species members, including those in long-term cryostasis/nanostasis or data storage;
  • Accounting for the deceased retaining active cognition within technologically-mediated afterlives;
  • Accounting for unconventional forms of identity, such as teleological threads;
  • Location accounting of infomorphs (by processor or by avatar/point-of-interaction location);
  • Legal differences of opinion on the prosophont/sophont boundary;
  • Calibration of population accounting for post-sophont entities, both regarding the appropriateness of categorizing such minds on an equivalent scale with baselines, and inasmuch as high post-sophont minds are capable of generating transient and/or lasting sophont memes in the normal course of cognition;
  • And so forth.

While recognizing that in many cases appropriate answers to these questions is determined contextually (the computation of required life-support capacity obviously is dependent on bioshell-population, for example), the meaning of population in the generalized sense requires the resolution of these questions, many of which are hotly debated philosophical, theological, and/or political topics in many of the Worlds’ polities.

As such, we have chosen to use population figures, in all cases superseding those locally provided, established by the Imperial Grand Survey, whose methodology has the virtue of being consistent, transparent, and well-documented (see publication IGS-1134/P rev. 112).

– from the preface to the Associated Worlds Factbook, Conclave Press