A View from the Quantified Self Conference
By: Dave Asprey
May 31, 2011
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. 🙂