A View from the Quantified Self Conference

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I spent the last two days at the Quantified Self Conference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.  It was full of biohackers and the people who are leading the next big technology revolution bringing together hardware, software, the internet, health, and behavior monitoring.  This is the “homebrew computer club” of this decade.  Here, People are making the stuff that everyone else will be using and wearing in 10 years, like  24/7 health monitoring that actually improves the quality of life, easy tools to help you figure out what you should be eating, what vitamins to take, and what medicines won’t work for you based on more knowledge and data than we’ve ever had in history.  (It looks like the Mercury News just picked up the “Homebrew” line too).

This is the exact opposite of what physicians and hospitals do.  They monitor you when you’re sick so they can make you not-sick. The Quantified Self movement is more along the lines of helping you monitor yourself when you’re well so you can be even better.  In fact, if you do that enough, you can become so resilient, physically and mentally, that you’re…Bulletproof®.  That’s why I presented at the QS conference twice in one day, and spent several hours being interviewed and photographed as the “Tim Ferriss of the Brain”  for the cover of a major business magazine!  (My fingers are crossed that they like the pictures…)  You’ll find the video of my talks here on The Bulletproof® Executive as soon as I can get them transcoded.

Some key technology had to emerge for QS to happen: Cheap, unobtrusive sensors, abundantly affordable and small processors, expansive wireless network coverage, and massive data collection and analysis in the form of cloud computing.  This potent combination set free a whole bunch of biohackers who now have the power to ignore incorrect medical advice when it simply doesn’t work.  People who can monitor and track whether their attempts to stay healthy and strong are actually working, or whether they need to make a change based on their own data.

As you’ve read, it was this biohacking approach that led me to lose 100lbs, keep it off for more than a decade, learn to eat about 4,000 calories per day, sleep less than 5 hours per night, raise my IQ, and maintain stellar health without the need for exercise.

Sound too good to be true?  It’s not.  Just measure yourself and make changes to move the measurements in the direction you want them to go.  Use realtime feedback to make it easier and faster.

It’s why I helped Kleiner-backed Corventis move wireless heart monitoring data to the cloud, why I was a co-founder and CTO of Basis, and why I’m a certified HeartMath executive coach.  It’s why I run the anti-aging education group Smart Life Forum.  I do this stuff for fun; most of my time goes to the other kind of hacking – my career in info security and cloud computing.

My stick-of-butter-a-day habit makes most people think I’m nuts, especially when I wrap it in salmon or blend it into Bulletproof Coffee.  Then they hear about my HDL cholesterol in the mid 80’s and triglycerides in the low 40’s, numbers unheard of in normal people.  Not at the QS Conference – I met a woman who had HDL in the 90’s and triglycerides in the 30’s, and I sat next to Helene at lunch, who happily borrowed some of my grass-fed butter to spread on her sardines.




Fujitsu had a not-so-cool-looking biohacking man-purse that was wired in to a blood pressure cuff, a set of attached electrodes for EKG, and more.  I’d wear it, but then again, I have no fashion sense other than a liking for things made of kevlar or unobtanium. 😉




I’ll have the Bulletproof® Executive view and comments on some of the dozens of sessions from the conference in my next post. In the meantime, I was particularly impressed with sleep monitoring tool Zeo, lab testing portal/AI tool WellnessFX, and a health data aggregator.  BodyKey is really interesting too – if it lives up to its promise, it will help people see data showing they burn more fat by eating right than by exercising at low intensity for hours. 🙂

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By Dave Asprey

  • ArmiLegge

    Hooray for grass fed fat!Do you ever try and align your blood lipid profiles with ancestral norms, or are you just trying to aim for a number thats been deemed less risk for disease?I know that the “paleo paradigm” is not always a good indication of health, but it is a logical baseline for blood chemistry.I’ve begun to implement polyphasic sleep and have found it extremely effective so far. I’d still love to know your take on it and compare it to your current methods of sleep hacking. Do you think it could still be beneficial to have maybe one day a week or every other week where you get a full 8-10 hrs of sleep?I’m curious if any of the smaller and cheap processors you mentioned involve carbon nanotubes or graphene? I’ve ben doing some research on those and they seem much more efficient and possibly commercially viable if production is put in place to support the demand.Don’t say you’re the Tim Ferriss of the brain. You’re Dave Asprey of the brain-much cooler;)-Armi 😀

    • Dave Asprey

      Armi, I’m pretty sure that the wooden test tubes used by our caveman ancestors weren’t as sterile as they needed to be for optimal test results! I’m also hopeful (but not always certain) that we know more about health than we did as a species thousands of years ago. The Bulletproof Diet shares a lot in common with the paleo diet, but that’s not where it started, and they’re not the same. You will be healthier on the Bulletproof Diet than you will on standard paleo. I started with a clean slate that said, “If I could eat anything for optimal health and performance, what would it be?” and it’s cool that the end result is closer to paleo!

      I’m not a fan of polyphasic sleep – tried it a while ago, and not only does it make you an antisocial animal, it will probably shorten your life span as your melatonin levels get tweaked and your biorhythms get broken. Good for short bursts…but I’d rather just sleep a solid 2 or 2.5 hours from 3am to 5am while using a CES machine set on low delta for physical regeneration for short bursts of low sleep anyway. 🙂 I’d seriously not try to get a long day of sleep while doing polyphasic though. Your body is likely to have a hard time adjusting and your sleep quality will suffer. Try using a Zeo to see if it works…betting it will be all light sleep on the long day.

  • Benjamin Rubin

    Awesome to meet you in person at QS Dave. For those who are watching – this will be known as the conference where Dave really stated to break out. You;ve got the goods – and I’ll be shocked if ‘being bulletproof’ isn’t common vernacular in a few years time.FYI – Esther Dyson has been talking about ‘Homebrew Health’ for quite some time – I’m right onboard! http://www.goldstar.com/events/mountain-view-ca/esther-dyson-homebrew-health

    • Dave Asprey

      Thank you Ben! I think you impressed quite a few people at the conference as “Mr. Zeo” 🙂

      It’s totally cool that Esther Dyson is into the Quantified Self area. I first met her about a dozen years ago when she was on the board of IANNA, the group that controlled domain names at the time. She’s a really impressively smart woman – I can’t imagine what will happen we she does some of the brain upgrades that are possible through this stuff.

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