An American tech millionaire, Bryan Johnson calls himself 'the most measured' person in human history and possibly one of the healthiest men alive. He believes that for the first time in human history, death may no longer be inevitable.
Bryan Johnson, age 46, made his money by founding Braintree Venmo, the company he sold for $800 million in 2013. In recent years, he has been making headlines for his journey to reduce his biological age to 18-years-old again.
From swapping blood with his teenage son to prevent aging to taking about 100 pills of supplements every day, Johnson's anti-aging efforts costs him $2 million a year and may seem bizarre to many.
However, biotech CEO Bryan Johnson, whose net worth is around $400 million, says he slowed the pace of aging by an equivalent of 31 years.
"I bet that in the past few days, most of us have looked both ways before crossing the street, wore a seat belt, thrown away moldy food, and maybe changed the battery on a smoke detector. We do all these things because we're trying not to die, and we've got good as a society at not dying. What I'm trying to do is just get a lot better at not dying," he tells Healthnews in an interview.
Becoming the most measured person in human history, as he puts it, allows Johnson to understand how his body dies in ways that he is unaware of, such as at the chemical and biological level, not just the physical signs of aging, like wrinkled skin.
"I am looking at all these measurements to figure out how I'm dying, and then I try to slow those processes down and reverse them."- Bryan Johnson
Bryan Johnson’s project, Blueprint, aimed to reverse aging, now dominates his life. Blueprint began as a social experiment, an anti-aging project, that is now open to the public for everyone to consider. He wakes up between 4:30 and 6 a.m., takes about 100 supplements and prescription medications, receives various therapies, and exercises, eats his dinner before 11 a.m., and goes to bed at 8:30 p.m. The supplements Bryan Johnson takes vary from vitamins, C, D-3, and E to ashwagandha and nicotinamide ribosome.
Under the close supervision of the doctors' team, he regularly undergoes extensive medical tests, including MRI scans, and makes his health data available online. Johnson says he now has the heart of a 37-year-old and the lungs of an 18-year-old, with the rest of the markers being no less impressive.
Bryan Johnson: Before and after Blueprint
Q: What was the most challenging part of changing your lifestyle?
A: It was getting rid of a guy named Evening Brian. Every day at 7:00 PM, this version of me felt incredibly stressed about life with everything that went on at work, a challenging relationship, and three young babies.
The only thing that would soothe my stress was going into the kitchen and finding brownies, ice cream, or junk food. I couldn't stop myself from that behavior, and I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now.
One day, frustrated with being unable to stop myself, I said tongue in cheek, 'Evening Brian, you're fired. You make my life miserable. And from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM, you are not authorized to eat food no matter what.'
Separating my behavior from my identity allowed me to start understanding myself as different Brians, like Morning Brian, Sleep Well Brian, and Dad Brian. I'm all these different versions of me. The most powerful thing for me was stopping crippling bad behavior that then led to other bad behaviors.
Q: Most people have much fewer resources than you do. What are the key components of the Blueprint protocol that an average American can implement?
A: I spent millions of dollars on this endeavor, and I've made it all available for free. The average American can do the entire Blueprint for between $1,000 and $1,500 a month.
Sleep is at no cost; just prioritize good sleep. Stopping bad things is also free, then eat healthy foods and get exercise.
It comes back to the basics that we all know and don't do. I've made all my data available, so it's really not a cost problem. For most people, it is a life structure problem.
Q: Research on medications such as metformin for longevity is limited. How do you make sure the use of these drugs won't harm your health long-term?
A: I've become the most measured person in history. This is not to say we get everything right, or it is not going to happen to me. This is to say that while everyone else is debating endlessly on what to do, I want to know what to eat for breakfast.
We've looked at the evidence, we come up with a conclusion, we do it, and we share my data. I've tried to punch through all the noise because everyone's in a perpetual paralysis.
Nobody feels like they can do anything because there's always disagreement on everything. So, somebody needs to decide on something and move forward, whether right or wrong.
I've published all my markers. I am potentially one of the healthiest people on the planet.
Q: It's very well documented how you take care of your physical health. Could you tell me more about your psychological and spiritual exploration?
A: I talk about things I can measure and share because if I get into areas where I can't speak with data and science, my voice is the same as everyone else and I have no distinct advantage. Once we get some quantified tools for that, then I'd be happy to engage in a measurement protocol.
I had chronic depression for a decade. I've never felt healthier or happier in my entire life than I feel now. That is due to getting the basics, such as high-quality sleep every night.
I just completed six months of a perfect 100% sleep score — no human in history has done that, as far as I'm aware. Getting high-quality sleep, eating well, and stopping bad habits has probably done more for my mental health than anything I've ever done.
Bryan Johnson's trust in algorithms
Q: What will artificial intelligence's role be in extending the human lifespan in the next few decades?
A: Nobody knows. We hope that with super intelligence, we will be able to avoid climate collapse, radically extend our lives, and achieve abundance. We hope all these things, but we have no idea.
Q: Do you see any risks of heavily relying on artificial intelligence or in the speed at which this technology is developing?
A: We have more risk from humans than we do from artificial intelligence. I'm trying to assess the risk and am more scared of humans than anything else.
With artificial intelligence, we imagine what it may or may not do. With humans, we know what they do. Humans are a violent species. We still solve our conflicts with war and death, kill each other, do terrible things to each other, and as a species, we're very primitive.
We have not yet learned how to solve our conflicts without violence and destruction, even to the point of threatening species-level annihilation with nukes. So, we're still extraordinarily primitive in our ability to solve conflicts.
Q: When it comes to life extension, there are concerns about population growth and its effect on the planet, economic issues caused by aging societies, or that it will deepen inequalities. What would be your response to such concerns?
A: Humans are great at imagining and constructing problems. But if you're in an urban area with a lot of traffic, no one's proposing that somebody should die to lessen the traffic. People are trying not to die.
Who's going to raise their hand to die? Or who's going to raise their hands and not have children? It's a complicated question to raise. For me, these are straw man's arguments. Everyone's trying to live their best life, and that's what we currently have.
Q: So, at this point, we should seek ways to extend our lifespan and see what problems come along?
A: It reminds me of the horse manure problem in New York. When horses were the primary mode of transit, there was so much manure in the streets of New York that it caused pollution problems in the Hudson. There was so much manure everybody thought this was an existential crisis.
And then Henry Ford created a Model T, and all the horses went away. Turns out that the horse manure problem wasn't actually a problem.
The problems we imagine being problems are sometimes real, and sometimes they are not, but they definitely morphed into versions that we hadn't imagined. And to get uptight about anything at this moment would be shortsighted.
Q: What would be your advice to a 20-year-old self?
A: Don't die. That's it. In a previous era when death was inevitable, you could say to become rich or the most respected blank or achieve blank.
You could say to achieve immortality through accomplishment, live a Zen life, or be detached from everything. Humans play these games because death is inevitable. So you say, choose among these games which you can play.
And now, for the first time in human history, death may not be inevitable, and so the only game to play is don't die.