#15: The First Principles Approach to Not Dying | Bryan Johnson

#15: The First Principles Approach to Not Dying | Bryan Johnson

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of First Principles. We're today here with

Brian Johnson, the man who is trying to live forever. We're

going to talk a lot about a bunch of different things in this conversation, both the science

of what he's actually doing with Blueprint, this protocol that he's put together, but

then also his philosophy towards life and basically where he thinks humanity is

headed and why he's doing this in the first place. So Brian, thank you so much for being

on. Yeah, happy to be here. Awesome. Well, I think that maybe that's an easy place

to start. Well, not easy, but it's a fun place to start is about kind

of like the broader thing that led you here. I mean, I think it's interesting that,

you know, you have this principle or you have this idea of zeroth principles thinking,

and yet this is the first principles podcast. So maybe let's try to just, you know, address the

I mean, I guess there were a few beats. After selling Braintree

of MO, this had been a goal my entire life, try to

do something meaningful for the future of humanity. And

that's such a challenging question. If you read history and

you learn about various people in various places, sometimes discoveries

or behaviors were accidental, and sometimes they

were thought through carefully. And if you try to actually pose a question, like right now, like if you

were trying to influence the future of the human race, what do you do? And

so I did two things to try to sort that out in my mind. One

is I gathered all of my smartest friends, and

I did 12 dinners around the country. And I would pose the

thought experiment to them and say, now let's imagine we're in 2050. What

did we do in 2016 that allowed this world to

be remarkable? Then I listened intently to everyone's ideas. Basically, you

could imagine whatever the zeitgeist was in 2016, I

wrote down all those ideas and I drew a box around the ideas and

then I challenged myself that I couldn't do anything

inside that box because inside that box was

basically a collection of first principle thinking It

was the things that people were identifying were the next step

in the iteration of various technologies. And so I challenged myself to zero. But

then when I started looking outside the box, I realized that it

was a very challenging thing to do. And

so I confronted this, when my mind

was searching for in the unknown space, I

was struggling to think coherently. Like, how do

you construct thoughts in zero space? And

so one night I went to bed and feeling deeply

the limitations of my own intelligence, I thought, I need to find

a framework that allows me to punch through. And that night I

had a dream about zero-wealth principle thinking. And

the idea just dropped in my mind. I jumped up and

I wrote it all down. I thought, I can't forget this. But yeah, it

was one of the most exciting moments

of my entire life. where I felt like it gave

me like a new appendage where I could maybe feel

more, see more, intuit more. And so, yeah,

so I've been working on this concept of zero principle thinking and how, um,

I think going forward, we may need to

transition from first to maybe a higher ratio

Totally. And the basic idea being that, you know, first principles is great about

working in a system, right? Like you can get down to the nitty gritty,

like the bare, like fundamentals of the, of the system you're

in. But zeroth principle thinking is that throw the system away.

Like what is the new system we need to be doing? Like, uh,

totally disregard all that first principle stuff and where should we be

Exactly. Like examples, germ theory. So

in 1870, you're trying to identify what it

is that is causing people to die. especially around maybe

births and surgeries and other things, then this

idea that there are microscopic objects that

the eyes can't see would be insane to contemplate in

the 1870s. And most people rejected the idea that there were these invisible things

called germs. And so that's an example, you know, special theory

of relativity is also, you can't take Newtonian physics

and first principle think your way into the next iteration

of physics. Because yeah, these things, they don't just change

the graph, you know, they change the x-y axes. Like, they

Totally. Have you ever heard of the book After Virtue by Alastair

MacIntyre? No. Oh, actually, I have heard of it. I haven't read it, though. It's

a really good book. I actually found it back when I was like a high school debater because I was like looking

at it for arguments or something. But there's a really good thought experiment in

it that's super zeroth principally. So, Uh, there

are two guys that are sitting around a campfire. It's like prehistoric times. Um,

one guy turns to the other and says like, you know, have you ever heard of this thing

called like the wheel? Have you ever thought of this? And the guy's like, no, what are

you talking about? And so the first guy goes, well, it's like, it's like the

circle and like how it can like rule things. And like,

it has this thing, uh, but it hasn't been invented yet. And

the other guy turns up, he's like, I think you just invented it. Like the

process of describing this new thing is the act of invention. And

so his argument is, if you can describe something, if you actually have words

for it, then you've already done the act of invention. So it's like sort

of what you're trying to do is do that, like invent, truly invent

in a way that is, you know, goes beyond the words that we have today. I think it's pretty

cool. Exactly. Totally. Um, Heck yeah. So I'm

curious. So that was the thought experiment. That was the

theoretical framework that you were operating within. Were there a lot

of ideas that be kind of like came to you within zeroth

principle thinking and you had to sort of whittle it down to don't die? Or was it did

Yeah, once 0th principle thinking became a framework I

could play with, then I was set off on the task of how

could you find a 0th principle endeavor.

And then, that was basically don't die. So,

death is inevitable. And we've talked about life

being everlasting in religious settings, but never in

IRL. And so we've kind of jumped from, yeah, we

made that leap. And so don't die in IRL is a different thought

process. And then I needed to develop the philosophical structure

that supports what that means. And specifically, what

does that mean when you're on the eve of creating super

intelligence? And so I was trying to stitch together how to understand

reality in this moment from the

vantage point of the wisdom of the 25th century. That's

like a thought experiment where you're in the 15th

century and you're trying to deduce reality

in some coherent fashion with the wisdom of the 21st

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think the, it is definitely like one

of those thoughts of like, you know, that is beyond the current, the

thing that is definitely not the current thing or it wasn't at the time of, you

know, we did have, we sort of had like measured self and

we had sort of longevity stuff. And there were, there were some, you

know, like the, whatever the Peter Atiyah's of the world, the Tim Ferriss of the world, we had those kinds

of folks that were, that had been talking about longevity for sure, but

definitely not with the frame of don't die. and definitely not to

the kind of same extent of the experimentation that you've been doing. So,

I mean, how did you see yourself as sort of, you know, either working

with and like on top of some of the other research that people have been doing versus

Yeah, it's definitely a yes and situation. I'm

a yes and kind of person. with friends and trolls and

everyone else. I'll quickly, I've been doing these dinners at my house. Actually, Christian,

it'd be great to have you attend one. But I'll, maybe I'll just quickly walk

you through like what I do to arrive at this don't die thing. So

there's five turns in the conversation. It takes us about two

and a half hours. And so I opened with the thought experiment of if

you had access to an algorithm, actually, let me just do it with you. Sure. Yeah, let's

go for it. Christian, if you had access to an algorithm that could give you the

best physical, mental and spiritual health of

your life, Because in exchange for that, you

did what the algorithm said. You went to bed when it said, you

ate what it said, you exercised in the ways that it suggested. Would

Without knowing more, I don't know. I'd be

afraid of what else I would give up. Are there experiences that

I don't get to have anymore? Am I deciding to forego

pleasure to have this thing? If all

else equal, 100% obviously yes. But I would wonder about that.

So you basically want to think with first principles and

Kind of, yeah. That's my brand, man. No,

So it's like a no, but a

cautious maybe. Yeah, it's a cautious maybe no. Okay. Now

let's imagine that the 25th century is

observing our conversation, and they see me pose this

question to you, and they're simply observing, what

are the characteristics of intelligence and morals and

ethics and norms and assumptions of a homo sapien that

I actually think about this all the time, and I would love to get your answer to it, too, of what

will future generations basically judge us for? I think

there's so many things. They're going to judge us for eating

animals that were birthed naturally, for sure, 100%. Because

they're going to have the ability to create matter however they

want, basically. They're going to judge us for I

don't know, treating homes as assets, like there's a there's a big long list of these

things. But I think there are plenty of things are going to judge us for and I'm sure I'm

sure there are things that we haven't discovered that related to health

And so when they observe your answer, where they they hear you say,

No, because I want to learn more. And like, I

see a trade off space of sensorial pleasure. And

you know, and like you, you so how would they assess your

intelligence? What are you revealing with

Maybe this is just too easy because I think I know where you're headed with it, is that my brain

is in control, that I'm thinking through it, and that

I myself have this limited understanding of what will be best for my

I think it is true. So yeah, the first turn of the thought experiment

is meant to provoke our beliefs that remain invisible

to us. So we all blurt out an answer, and

it's kind of our knee-jerk reaction to a somewhat provocative question,

and it kind of shows our cards. The second turn, it shows

a mirror to us, and we become much more self-reflective, just like you've

done. So now you've seen this from both angles. Okay, so what could

possibly happen in the future that might change

our responses and how the 21st century would view

our evolution. So I'm going to make three statements right now. So

if we contemplate what's happening with AI, I

think there's one specific thing that is

important. One is I think that

AI is going to know more than

any one of us individually and all of us collectively, and

it will discover better than any one

of us individually and all of us collectively. So And

whether someone says that's impossible, AI is in

a nascent state, I'm talking about from the perspective of

the 25th century. So give it some time, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years, whatever.

Over some duration of time, AI is going to be better at both

knowledge acquisition and knowledge management

and discovery. And so that's going to

create a situation where we are transitioning as a species from

one of knowing to not knowing. and

our entire existence is based upon knowing many

things. And so when that happens, what do

we do as a species? AI is probably going

to be better at being you than you are you. It's gonna be

better at being you than you are. And so we know this, we say yes to

an algorithm that helps us navigate in our car. We say yes to an algorithm to

entertain us on our phones. We say yes to an algorithm, so on and so forth. Soon

we'll have algorithms that help us with our reasoning processes. We

do this in text-based form now, right? But you can see it naturally that

algorithms just do things better over time. And

we say yes in all these incremental ways. And eventually we'll

just say like, legit, this algorithm is better.

Like I'm actually more productive. I'm happier. I'm more stable. You

can, you can imagine a world where it just generally gets better. Now I'm

going to avoid dystopic outcomes for the moment, but generally speaking,

that's what we see is like algorithms generally improve our lives when we say yes. So

if we take those two principles of where we're going, then the

most important question in this part of the galaxy surfaces.

What do we do as the most intelligent species we know

in this part of the galaxy? What do we do when we're giving birth to

superintelligence? When we don't, or we're not the

knowing party anymore, we're not the discovery party anymore. When

it's not clear what our control is going to be on how this thing evolves, what

do we do? So I have an answer. I have a proposal, but I'd

I think that the fact that it is more intelligent than us means

that what we think about it might not really matter that much. Like, I

think that because it is so much better at reasoning, any answer

that I come up with for what it should do is going to be very, I

actually think we might actually be seeing this in the way that we're training AI, like

right now in 2024, like we're hitting, you're seeing a

little bit of an asymptote. And I think a lot of that is due to the fact that humans

are rating the answers, the AI, and we're just like saying what we

would have said. So it's, it's sort of a paradox. It's like, you know,

AGI or whatever is this infinitely smarter thing, like better

than us. And so it'd be the equivalence of me like going up to my like pet rabbit

and saying like, what do you think is the best way to care for you pet rabbit? It

It has no idea. So this is when I went through this thought process, I

arrived that we really can only say one

thing with confidence. And that is Don't Die. Don't

Die is the most played game by everybody on

planet Earth every second of every day. We play it more than religion,

we play it more than capitalism, we play it more than anything. Like right

now, if something were to threaten your life or my life, we would stop the

podcast and we would take care of not dying. As a species, it

is the only thing we agree upon. And

it's not that we even disagree, like, don't die in 20 years. People will

smoke and people will take risks. So it's not even

that we agree on don't die in 20 years. We agree we don't want to

die right now. And so if we have to really figure out

what alignment means, that's the singular thing we

align on as a species. And so don't die individually, don't

kill each other, don't kill the planet, and

align AI with don't die. And so then, whatever

happens after Don't Die, like what games we play, how we evolve, that's

all a secondary consideration to securing Don't Die

as the zeroth order operating system of

this planet. And so that's what my entire endeavor was about, is

I wanted to demonstrate me as the embodiment of

Don't Die. Like, how do you actually be that? And

so it's a system where you measure every single way

my body dies every day. You try to find therapies to

slow down that speed of aging and then compensate for aging damage. And

then you measure to see how you did and you repeat again and again

and again. trying to drive the you know death

to zero not you can't stop entropy so you can just slow it down a certain

degree and then repair and then it's the same protocol that would apply to

earth you take the earth you measure everything you know billions of

data points a second you look at the science of how do you maintain a coral

reef that's healthy you know like a biosphere that's healthy you implement the

protocol again and again and again And so you do that for all

verticals in society. And so as a species, I guess my proposal is,

we currently live in this luxurious world where we can say many things about

existence, and we're quickly narrowing that aperture to

be able to only say one thing, which is lock

in on don't die. And then we can, of course, we can join hands and play

games and Bob don't die. But we can't do that until we

first secure don't die as the singular operating system

I love that. I think that is really interesting, too, because and

I wanted to ask you this question of like, what do you see your role as in the system? Like

you just said, it's sort of the embodiment of don't die. I

also hear though, there's a lot of like, you're like the chief philosopher of

don't die. And that you've sort of done the thought experiments that lead you to

conclude that we shouldn't die. Like, there's like a lot of I think

therefore I am sort of parallels of like, just shed all this other stuff

that we can't be certain about what can we be certain about not dying? Like,

let's let's be certain about our existence first. Yes. So there's

philosopher, there's embodiment. What are the

other roles that you play within Don't Die, and which of them do you

I mean, there's five levels of ambition that I would

categorize. It's start a company, start a country, start

Because in any other generation of time, you

really all in the past couple thousand years, you can only aspire to

one through three. You could never aspire to four or five. It just was out

of technical reach. And so now like just in the past few years, a

reasonable person could aspire to

four and five. And that's insane. Like it levels up ambition of

the species to a never before contemplated goal. And

so yes, I think that is, it's not just my goal. I think it's our

Got it. So if there's this shared goal as a species, which is don't die, and

you're trying to bring it about, obviously, like that's, you know, you've

had the original idea, you think it's powerful, you've seen its impact on your life,

you want to bring it to as many people as possible. I mean, it does, I

mean, it feels a little bit religious, though, doesn't it? I mean, in the

same sense that religion is a set of shared ideals that people get behind that

change their lives, that that make them do rituals that,

uh, you know, have them believe in things that are larger than themselves, especially with

the whole kind of like, um, I wouldn't call it ascetic, but I would call it

like you're sort of surrendering self-control, like your own self-control to

a certain extent. It is, it is fairly religious in that sense. I mean, as

I know that, um, you know, there was a, there was a period of your life

where you were more religious and then sort of, you weren't like, do you

see that parallel or do you, do you feel that parallel and how you're kind

Religion is used in a pejorative term, right? So it's like, if

you're going to pull out the R word, you're basically going to level an insult. It's

not like someone starts a company and you admire the

ambition, you admire the galvanization, you admire the idea. You

talk about a religion and it's like, you know, all of a sudden everyone's apprehensive

and they want to cast shame. But religions are, you

know, like the most durable form of human organization.

ever created. And so it's a really weird cultural thing to

just jump on the bandwagon and say, you know, religion's bad. And

so, you know, the people, of course, use the pejorative word like cult. Yeah,

I guess what I'm saying is I want to call to our attention, to

our zeitgeist, that we are presuming we're better than

religion, that we ourselves are You are

post-religion, but everyone is religious. Everyone

follows rituals. Everyone follows shared community practices. It's

a really silly debate. And so like, I just embrace it. Like

if people want to call Don't Die a cult, like, yes, we are. And

our evil design is to get you to go to bed on time and eat well.

Like we are pernicious and like we're coming after But like, there's

no better way to deal with it than just say yes and. But yeah, I mean, if

you're ambitious, then you should never deride

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strata.io slash firstprinciples. Let's get back to the show. If

Blueprint or Don't Die is sort of like religion, and

you are, you know, its greatest follower, but also sort of its like, you

know, message bearer. Do you think a lot about,

you know, to bring it back to sort of first principles, do you think about like the

building blocks of getting a meme into the world?

Like, what are those? And you have so many different tactics that you've

used on social media from, you know, posting,

like, semi-nude photos to, like, picking fights to,

you know, like, being inspirational. Like, all the whole gamut. Like,

have you thought a lot about bringing a meme into the world and how you do that from

Yeah, it's kind of like a... I do play with old mediums. I play with

seriousness and troll and, you know, and

fights because it's like an instrument where You

want to play as many notes as you can. You want your range to

be, you want a big dynamic range. And if you're serious

or sincere is your primary currency, you could only play so many songs. As

I'm always looking for the broadest dynamic range just for the

music creation in all the different factors. So yeah, I mean right now I'm

trying to formalize and create action behind

Don't Die. So I've done it with help, right? That translates to

basic things we know about. But if you take it to an adjacency like

school lunch. So for example, when you smoke two cigarettes, it

shortens your life by 30 minutes. So let's just say you can actually quantify

certain behaviors and what they have for a cost of life. So

let's say we're trying to quantify the cost of

the school lunch we give in America to kids. So

let's say it's a piece of pizza, it's chocolate milk,

and it's canned vegetables. And let's just say together we

assign a die score of 7 minutes. So

we're feeding our kids die. Now that's helpful

because if you tell somebody about die

individually, they're going to put up all these blocks like, but I

prefer a life of stimulation. I want my alcohol and

my benders with my friends. Like they're going to defend all their vices. They're going to defend

all their behaviors. They're going to tell me that life, that death is beautiful because

it replenishes the earth and death is wonderful because it gives life to me. Like they're going to

have all these elegant arguments defending death and their own vices.

If you frame it like, hey, we're feeding kids die. You

can't defend that. Nobody wants kids to eat

dye. And so that's a good example of, okay, if you want to eliminate

dye from school lunch, what do you do? And that

is the same process I went through, right? You have to quantify death. You have to figure out

what the science is of not dye. Then you have to go through the protocol again

and again. So we get zero don't dye for kids. And if you

get to a positive side of your extending life, even better.

So you take that format and you then say, okay, now it is don't dye coral

reef. what is don't die, international relations, what

is don't die, biosecurity, I take any domain in

society, how do you quantify death in all its

forms? And you basically say, alright, as a species, this is our

game. Like before, it was like how to make the most amount of money

or how do you the most, you know, social media followers, like we're gonna play a

brand new game and see who can rack up the biggest don't die score. Very

I love that. Okay, so this is a perfect time to dive in more deeply into

what the don't die kind of program is, how you think about it,

and the therapies you chose and how you chose them and all that sort of stuff. I

mean, I think just to start it at the true like, ground floor

And how do you think about those things from the first principles, like super,

super basic level in a conversation last week at this group I

was with this gentleman's response was, I'm okay to die.

Like, I, you know, I'm fine. Like, I'm just going to go on to my next version." And

it's like, my response to him is like, you can say that because you're not dead, right?

It's like, can we just be honest? Every time your mind chirps with

any kind of understanding about reality, you're only given that privilege because you're

not dead. And so to realize, and this, it takes people time to

go through this loop. They don't understand that

don't die is what gives them breath. And so that is a

basic level. Like once you take that as a starting point, then

you can walk into the other pillars of the Don't Die

Oh, no, it's okay. So basically, I would love for us

to take like a kind of like a big step back and say like, what is death

Yeah, yeah. Okay, cool. So what we did that was unique is

we said, you know, when the heart stops

pumping, how would you, how would you go

about doing this? So like, if you're in health and wellness, and you're with a group of

friends and the topic comes up, you may hear questions like, you

know, I'm doing one nostril breathing, you

know, to activate my, you know, my, my

parasympathetic nervous system where people will be like, I've got a cold plunge practice

or like I do yoga or I do Pilates, like everyone's got

their thing, right? And so if you hang out in health or wellness, you have

a near infinite number of things that people

are going to do. Eastern medicine and spiritual practices and

like community with it, different dimensions via psychedelics,

like everyone's got a gem. But what we did is we said, okay, so there's an infinite search

space. How do you find the power laws? Like you have to basically say,

like, we can actually only do like 20 things and we

can only do those 20 things really well. So what we did as a team, I hired 30 medical professionals.

We combed through all the scientific literature on health span and

lifespan. And then we found the effect size of what actually

worked the best. And then we ranked the biostatistical data

to say, what do we actually believe? And then we rank ordered those. We

said, all right, we have the power laws. Let's start with number one. And

so number one was too risky. It was a gene therapy that

basically you can't turn off. So we said, OK, too risky. We

can't answer number one. What's number two? And then we went down the list. And

so we've gone down, I think we're up to like 200 something now,

but we've implemented all the power laws. And then we

recorded all of this and we shared all my data publicly. And

as far as we know, I have the best biomarkers

of anyone in the world. Now, this is not to say

people don't have better biomarkers than me. They maybe do.

We just don't know about it. So of people who are

measured across the areas of cardiovascular

ability and inflammation and total bone marrow density and

speed of aging, et cetera, this whole long list of stuff, I

have the best biomarkers in the whole world. And so it demonstrates it

actually works. Like we took me as a 43 year old who

had beat himself up his entire life, like bad sleep,

chronically depressed, terrible diet. And we took me from

a terrible place to like among the best

in the world in three years time. And so I wanted to show like basically

the four minute mile for longevity. Like so people

would be like, I didn't think that was possible. And now I'm

Someone's done it. There's a guy who's done it. So it's possible. Is

there literally an Excel spreadsheet somewhere, which is like that,

like 300, 500 rows of all this, this research. That's so crazy. I love that. And

is very, very hard. Because yeah, most as you would expect, most

people are trained in a specific discipline in

a certain religion. Like, you know, it is a religion is

once you get in that world, it's almost impossible to block to

change their frame. And so it's really a bunch of

misfits who like they, they're either in a system or outside of

it, and they just feel uncomfortable. They don't formally enter systems. And

so Yeah, they're like, like refugees almost like and we

just kind of pick we just kind of pick them up and they find a home with us

where we we play fast and we're robust. But

Do you have your body divided among people like

is are there like so I work at a satellite company like we have different

responsible engineers for different parts of the satellite, like the solar arrays or

the, you know, the flight computer or something. So do you have the equivalent of like

responsible engineers for like, do you have like an ear guy and

Yeah, we do it on an organ by organ basis because redefined if

I can say I'm chronologically 46, but that's not

really helpful. I need to talk about my heart age.

And when I speak about my heart's age, I need to speak about it from its anatomical,

uh, a function, anatomical and then functional capacity.

So I need to measure my heart age by like, you know, 10, 15 measurements. And

then you've got a true estimate on biological age. And

that's true for every organ. And so I'm, I'm chronologically 46. But

Yeah, that's so interesting. I love that. So that like, that is such a rethink of what

age is obviously, like, mostly I, I'm 33, because I've

been alive, I was born 33 years ago, and a couple months or whatever. But

so for can we dig into that a little bit? Like, I don't know if there are specific examples

of organs that you would like, highlight is interesting in

the way that you're calibrating the age of it. But is it like a functional thing?

Or is it like, are there are there like, I'm

sure there's a lot of function, but then also deeper data of like,

I'm curious if a couple examples. Cardiovascular ability through

VO2max. So it's how well your body can utilize oxygen.

That is a well, that data set is solid. Like

you, it's an age graph. So at age 18, you peak

and then you decline from there. That doesn't mean that you're

highest at age 18. You can get higher over time as you build, but generally speaking, age

18 is when you peak. And so yeah, my cardiovascular ability, my VO2

max is 58.7, which is the top 1.5% of

18 year olds. And then if you look at my total bone

mineral density, It's important. I'm in the top 0.02% of

30 year olds, which is age minimum for that test. And if you look at my nighttime erections,

you know, it's like, it always makes people laugh, but it's a really important

marker for psychological, cardiovascular and

sexual health. I'm better than the average 18-year-old by

a significant margin. Because the younger you are, the more erections you

have, and then they start tapering down over time until you have none. And so yeah, if you take any

one of my few dozen markers that are big ones, there's

very clear age graphs on where something

should be at a certain age. And so we've tried to take every single one, kidney,

liver, heart, pancreas, thymus, brain, ears, eyes, everything,

Is there a particular one that you feel like more people should know about that don't? Like

thymus is one you've mentioned, I've heard you talk about before, I think that

most people don't know what that is. Are there other ones

that are, maybe is that one that you would highlight as more people should know

I mean, this is why I did the penis. Because like, you know, I was I

was talking about my heart. We had just done this. I think one

of the coolest things we did is we reduced my

thymus age by seven years. Thymus is like this gland right behind your

sternum. It's responsible for your immune system. It's really important.

Like you don't want to, you know, an aged thymus. And so through

this protocol, we reduced my thymus age by seven years. We published

it. We did three MRIs. We coded brand

new software. We put so much effort into it, and we shared

it publicly, and no one cared. So we

did that several times with these different organs. And so one day I was talking to my team. We're like, you

guys, we're doing this really cool process of we do rigorous biological

age measurement. We look at the science and the therapies. We measure again. It didn't

work. We did the scientific method. what if we did sexual health? And so

I posed the question to the team, what would it take for me to have the most quantified

penis in the world? What would you do? What measurements

do you do of penis function? And then I went and did all of them. I did all

the penis measurements. And then we said, okay, so now we have a baseline on

this. What are the therapies that have clinical evidence

as efficacious? And then we gave a score. We said, okay, so this kind

of all collapses into like, what are your nighttime

boners? And like, no one, no one knew what, you know, like, no one knew nighttime

boners were relevant. No one knew it was a marker of biological age. No one

knew, but it showed the process of measurement, intervention, you

know, protocol. So like, that was really helpful, because it really got the

point across that you can actually approach each function, each

biological organ of the body, and approach it with scientific

That's so so I think it's there's two examples that you talked about that I think are interesting

to kind of compare against each other. VO two max, most people hope

of like, I think I've heard about it, you know, that you see the athletes with

a mask and they're on the treadmill. And, you know, they're, it's like, you know, people

know that one. And I'm sure there's tons of data for it. nighttime erections,

I'm sure, I don't know, but I would assume that there's not a lot of data already.

And probably the comparison that you had to do to like, was, was probably harder.

Like, where did you actually, could you find other studies like,

like existing studies that you compare yourself to? Or was it curious to kind of

compare those? Cause it's like super, super extremely studied. Everybody

less studied i'm sure you guys had to really dig probably to go find stuff

but um you did you you ultimately did find studies one

study that had done nighttime erections and

then we found a company out of the uk adam help they had built a

a device that does erection measurements there's a little cube it

sits at the base of the penis and you put it on before you go to bed, you just

forget about it. You put it on, you think it's going to be annoying, it's actually just fine.

It seems distracting. Yeah, exactly. You're fine, just fine. And then it measures

the number of nighttime tumescence at the boner,

and so it measures the quality. So it's looking at engorgement of the penis, and it

happens during REM sleep. And so I had

so many of my friends, when I posted this, they

messaged me with great concern. They're like, I'm

getting no boners. I'm never erect. And

most of the time, their sleep quality was atrocious. So when your sleep

quality goes down, boners just evaporate. And

so that's why it's a good evidence. Like, if you are not convinced that

sleep is really important, just look at all the critical functions

that just go away immediately, including... So it's

a really good learning experience of people creating these intuitions that,

you know, going to bed on time really matters. And your

last meal of the day matters a lot because it determines how you sleep. And just

to draw this domino effect, it's like, okay, I can see how these pieces fit

together, that a person's vitality really is

in this chain reaction of events. So it helps people understand that you

go back into this primary thing of like, does it make sense to become a martyr for... You're

basically paying with double or triple time life points by doing

My memory or my creativity is most

robust in my dreams. I have more ideas in

my sleep than I do when I'm awake. The quality of my days are

That's when the other dimension is reaching out to you to tell you your principal ideas.

Yeah. I'm curious, can we talk a little bit about the PAC,

Pace of Aging Calculated Tests? I'm curious to hear about those.

So there's, I don't know if I'm saying it right, doon-doon-doon, doon-doon-doon,

that one. That's the main one, right, for DNA methylation, is that, that's

When we first started, so there's these new clocks they use, they look at DNA methylation

patterns, like chemical signatures in the body, and these

chemical signatures have information encoded that

are patterns about your age. And so they change with

age. And so when the clocks first came out a couple years ago, when I

first started Blueprint, we were like, hey, cool, clocks. But

the clocks are trained with, each clock

is trained for a certain objective. So the clocks are different.

So when you hear people complain, like, I did this clock and it said I was this age, and

this clock said it was that age, it's because the clocks are trained differently. So

it's not like the clocks are bad. It just means they're trained for different objectives. And

so what we did when we started, We said, okay, we're

just going to test all clocks. So we tested me with

six clocks, and then I think we waited six months

or eight months, and we tested me on eight clocks again, and I

had reversed my epigenetic age by 5.1 years. And

that was one of the first viral hits we had. We're just playing around.

We're just trying to figure out, what is the clock? And what do they say? And how do we compare them?

But we were not really thinking I'd reverse my

age by 5.1 years. We were like, hey, the clock shows something. But then over the

years, we've really focused on this true

diagnostic denuded pace. So it's based upon one

of the most robust longitudinal studies out

of New Zealand. I think it's one of the longest running ever. It's

a third-gen clock now, and initially we

would say it's a silver standard marker,

because blood, cholesterol, and triglycerides, those

things are gold standard in terms of predicting all-cause mortality.

But these, we'd say, are silver standard because they haven't yet crossed that

threshold of predictability for all-cause mortality. It's

getting very close now where they can predict this. So it's now getting

the respect of more and more people of like, okay, this was like an

emergent thing. We were skeptical of this. Now we're

taking it much more seriously because it's now predicting the phenotypic markers

much more accurately. So I started with over so if

you're if you score a one on the test if I'm 46 I

score one that means I'm aging at a normal rate

of a 46 year old. If I'm aging at 1.01 or

more and faster than normal and 0.99 or less I'm aging

slower then. And so we've worked my speed of aging down to

0.64, which is my most recent measurement. It's lower than 99 plus

percent of 20 year olds. So it's one of the lowest scores in

the world for men. And we're very proud

of this because we've worked so hard. It doesn't matter if we do it, but

like a rough summary of it is for every

12 months that pass, I age for seven months and I get free

So I know that there's a, I don't know very much about this. I know that at the end

of your DNA, there's like these things that are repeating maybe,

and we don't, I don't know what they do. Maybe somebody else does their, uh,

but they have something to do with aging. Have you, is that something that you measure as

Yeah, we measure it. We have measured it for years. It's something

we routinely do. We have been unsuccessful to change my

telomere length with almost everything. Like there have been small changes, but

nothing really important. But the telomeres, I think is the

number one performing. It was a combination of telomere. I think

if I remember right, it was a study of telomeres, plotho

and folstatin gene therapy. And so we haven't done telomere

telomerase gene therapy yet because it's

not yet safe like you can do it but once you do it you

can't turn it off and so there's only one person who's done it and

it's it's just a risk like you if you if something goes wrong like

cancer you can't turn it off and so i did do my first gene therapy

in october i did so in the world of gene therapies

you need a delivery vehicle to get the gene therapy in the body and

what most people use is called an AAV And

so that's the one that can't be turned off, and it has other complications with antibodies. I

used a plasmid, and so it's a friendly vehicle.

It delivers a protein inside the nucleus, and then

it just produces more of a protein. Like for example, what I did is full of statin. So

this gene therapy is producing higher levels of full of statin that

I would otherwise have in my body. And this has been typically

seen with bodybuilders where you've seen like the big cows or

dogs that are just very large and muscled out. Have you seen those? Yeah, yeah,

yeah. Yeah, they're terrifying. And so that's what folic acid

has been associated with. But we've been looking at it for its rejuvenation

effects across whole bodies. We've been doing looking at my muscle mass

and my bone mineral density and a whole bunch of markers. Like we're trying to see like what

whole body effect because As the most measured

person in history, we get this really interesting view of everything

that goes on when we do these therapies. And so the thing that the

gene therapy did, which was interesting, is it lowered my speed of aging to this 0.64. Before,

it was hovering at like a 0.69, 0.7. And this is the

only one we did that could be responsible for it. So

in that regard, it's efficacious. We've been very happy

So most of most of my listeners will know this is mostly a,

like a deep tech hardware-y kind of podcast where

we talk to a lot of folks that have built, you know, these devices or have

built, you know, new machines. You've actually done this. You,

you, you helped with Kernel, which is I think an FNIRS project. Is

that right? Do you mind telling us about like what that was and how

Yeah, so after selling Braintree Venmo, it was this question of

what to do. And so in that time duration I spoke to you about of trying to

figure out, I did two things to kind of just fill the time. One

is I started a venture fund. I invested $100 million into

deep tech. So I invested in synthetic biology, genomics, computational

therapeutics. For example, I was the first money behind Ginkgo Bioworks, which

is now the world leader in synthetic biology. And so I did that, it

was cool because I got to work in the trenches with scientists, entrepreneurs,

like how do you commercialize deep tech? And

then the second thing I did is I built Kernel. And so my contemplation

was We are currently

the intelligence building AI, and it may be

interesting if we built our intelligence alongside of

AI. Currently, integrating the brain and AI is

very hard. We have all these things in between us. We have fingers,

we have to type, and visual systems. I wanted to build

the world's first mass market brain interface that could make reading

the brain output easy to integrate with AI. And so we,

we started with the team and we had this question that we were going

to look at it from a first principles perspective. Like, how

can you figure out what is happening inside the brain? So we spent two years looking

at every possible way, electrical, magnetic, acoustic, and

electrical. And then we mapped out each path and

we said, okay, what can the technology do? What are

the challenges for commercialization? We spun up

systems internally, we acquired data, we pressure tested the various paths, but

it was such a cool thing. We were just this group of people

at the edge of physics and science trying to figure

out these new modalities. And so we ended up deciding on

building a time-domain functional near-infrared spectroscopy

system. And so it's basically, think of it like wearable fMRI.

You put a bike helmet on your head, and you've got

images of the brain in minutes. And it's low cost versus

being in a big claustrophobic system. We were successful. We built

an ASIC. That took like four years to build out. I personally

invested $64 million in the company. I

kept it alive through the financial crisis. I kept it alive through COVID. It

was just like this, like deep tech is hard enough,

but then to ride through multiple crises. So that was brutal. But

yes, the tech is built, it's working. We're now in clinical trial,

clinical studies for mild cognitive impairment and

depression. So I'm very proud that we actually built

something that had never been built before. It works. We just

showed gold standard equivalent with

fMRI. So we succeeded. Like we built a mass market

brain interface. So I'm very proud of it. It was a

really fun endeavor to do. And so I hope that we

succeed at these things and we can go off to much bigger things of getting these in

Yeah, those things that the more I've learned about the the near infrared

spectroscopy stuff is so cool. It's like somewhere between like brain

radar, where you're like kind of pinging these like infrared systems off, but then also

it's kind of like this little, um, well, I don't know what you call them, like the little the

little blood finger clip things. Exactly, right. It's the same idea.

It's the same idea. But it's just looking into your brain and seeing what's happening.

I think exactly right. Well, awesome. Thank you so much for doing this. I mean, any any

kind of final thoughts to people other than don't die? How

Yeah, I would say if anyone listening is interested in

building Don't Die With Me, I'm putting together a group of people.

And we're going to get together and we're going to talk about the various verticals, like bring

your idea, bring your specialty. And then we'll work through the

thought process of like, how do you actually quite so take an

abstract concept like international relations. How

do you think about nation-states working on Don't Die? What does that even mean? So

I try to break apart complicated topics into actionable things. And

yeah, I'm really trying to build it out, number one. And number two, yeah, I would

just encourage people that to really think about, like, we

really may be at, you know, on the eve of the

most spectacular existence in

this part of the galaxy. And I know our lives are full

and the day is demanding and there's all kinds of things that demand our

attention. But really, if we can get our

shit together as a species and realize the

preciousness of this moment, it may be spectacular, far

beyond our imagination. So I hope that we can band together and

do this. I think it'd just be an amazing journey to

Episode Video

Creators and Guests

Christian Keil
Christian Keil
Host of First Principles | Chief of Staff @ Astranis