Our Interview With Bryan Johnson, Transcribed in Full

a lightly edited transcript of bryan johnson and mike solana's discussion about bryan's life's work: DON'T DIE.
Mike Solana

Audio will be posted Wednesday, January 24. Solana's piece based on this conversation is here.


Solana: All right, cool. So, thanks again for doing this. It is an honor to talk to the immortal man. I reached out to you because after your first round of press and the internet commentators and a lot of people making fun of it and attacking it — and even friends of mine in group chats attacking it — I thought, man, my culture, tech culture, has really changed a lot in ten years. I think what you're doing is awesome. I think that you represent something that is important. I think we need people to be experimenting and pushing the edge. And there's this high level question that we're going to get to in this conversation today, I hope, which is just, should people die? Do people have to die? And then why is there such a weird psychological block in front of people that prevents them from seeing the other side of that? Like, what if you didn't have to? And why is that bad? Is it bad? That's kind of what we're going to talk about today.

Before we get into all the questions, I would love to really concretize your beliefs, in particular, your perspective on mortality. There's a ton of coverage of your work at this point, and we'll get to the general tenor of that in a second. But at the very end of a piece about you that I read in the Daily Mail, you were quoted as saying, "I currently have no plans to die." This, and sentiments of that kind, are relentlessly framed by the press as almost insultingly provocative. I think a lot of people find that just to be a crazy thing to say.

First, would it be correct to characterize the overall goal of your work as a world in which aging is optional? Is living in a world of no death really what you're going for? And then second, what chance do you think we have of ending aging, or even reversing the process in our lifetime?

So one, is that the goal? And two, do you really believe it? Do you think that we have a chance?

Bryan Johnson: I love your questions. I love that you're putting your finger on the exact nuggets of things that we can tease out, because there are headlines that I think minimize these ideas. So I guess some context on this for backdrop: this really originated in doing this thought experiment where I imagined being in the 25th century, hanging out with intelligences. Like I did this visualization. And I imagined that there was this communication between the intelligence, not through verbal communication, but through some unknown modality of exchanging information between intelligent agents. And they were conversing amongst themselves and observing the early 21st century, the time you and I occupy. And I tried to imagine, what would they value? What would they revere? What would they actually say, "you know what, we are grateful that Homo sapiens in the early 21st century figured out what and did what so that intelligence could thrive in this part of the galaxy." And that was the thought experiment that allowed me to arrive at Don't Die and Blueprint. Because it's so much more valuable to be revered by the future than it is to be respected by the present. The incentives of the present are paralyzing and claustrophobic and minimizing. And to be revered by the future, you need to branch out and overcome all the limitations of the powers of the moment.

And so when I thought about that, like what is the singular thing I as an individual could try to spend my time and attention on that would be revered by the 25th century? And that was this basic idea that if you look at the history of the galaxy and of planet Earth, we are baby steps away from superintelligence.

Now, whatever that is going to be defined, it’s some form of computational intelligence that so far exceeds our intelligence that we can't even imagine it. We're up against a wall of fog. Now when that happens, what can we say about the future? What can we say about the present? What can we model out? And my conclusion was: nothing. We can say absolutely nothing about the future. We can't model it. We can't predict it. We can't do anything about it. We can't even place our hope on it. Nothing. Therefore, the only thing we can say as a species at this moment is: don't die. It is the singular thing we can rally upon. Nothing else we can agree upon.

And that's when I came up with this idea. Basically we play don't die every day. Each one of us, we look both ways before we cross the street, we wear our seatbelts, we throw out moldy food. Everyone plays don't die every day. And I was simply saying the future is getting really, really, really, really good at don't dying.

Solana: I want to get back to that in one second and I'm writing myself a note so I do. On don't die: for people who are kind of just tuning into your recent work, what does that mean practically for you? Experiments that you've run on your body, tests that you've run, practices that you've come to, the ways that you research... describe that journey to me or paint a picture of that journey for me. And then also, how are you measuring success?

Bryan Johnson: We hear a lot about the concept of goal alignment as this idea that we're building intelligence. We need it to goal-align to human values and what our rules are and blah, blah, blah. And so I said, okay, I'm going to become the goal alignment problem. I'm a collection of 35 trillion cells. I'm going to take my 35 trillion cells and I'm going to goal-align around one objective: don't die. So it's not an objective of anything else. It's not like 10 PM Bryan sets the alarm and 6 AM Bryan's like, no, I want to sleep in. There's not two different persons. There's one person, 35 trillion cells, one objective: don't die. And then when I set out, I set up a team of 30 health professionals and I became the most measured human in history. And we basically tried to explore the scientific frontiers of how granular an insight could we gain to understand how I die on a daily basis. And could we do it with fitness tests and MRI and ultrasound and DNA methylation and microbiome and blood and stool, like, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of measurements. Can we look at the molecular processes? We know if you get hit by a car pretty hard, you might die. If you jump over a bridge, you might die, like big things. But do you die when you drink two glasses of wine? Do you die when you smoke a cigarette? And how much? And we tried to start measuring these things. And so then I tried to basically say, can I goal-align around not die? And can I basically get myself to the edge of scientific frontiers of minimizing my don't die as much as possible in the year 2023? And that's the algorithm we built.

Solana: I would love some specifics of you measuring yourself. You're the most measured man alive. You get all this information. What are some of the things you removed from your diet and lifestyle? What have you removed from your life? What have you added in terms of diet? And what is the progress that you've seen?

Bryan Johnson: I'll get into all the specifics. The way we did this is we surveyed every single scientific publication ever done on healthspan and lifespan, animals and humans. We ranked them according to 15 bio-statistical criteria, on which ones we thought were appropriate for inclusion. And then we've ranked those [to prioritize] where we take action. And so for example, one of the biggest things you can do for health and wellness is don't smoke. It's like the single biggest thing you can do. The next thing, you got a few other things like around diet and exercise and BMI.

I'll give you some of the particulars we did. With my diet, I consume 2,250 calories. We were down to like 1,950. We've kind of moved around a little bit, but we're at 2,250 calories. And we had this question — if it was every calorie fighting for its life — what would constitute a perfect diet? Like, how do you basically feed every organ in the body? And the way we did this is we asked every organ, we'd measure the pancreas and liver and the lungs and the heart, my DNA methylation, we'd say, what do you need? So you basically find out the state, like my heart, you measure my heart, you find out its biological age by looking at function and anatomy. And then you figure out, what does the heart need to thrive? Well, it needs certain things. And so we tried to pack into that diet of 2,250 calories. So my breakfast, for example, is broccoli, cauliflower, ginger, garlic, hemp seeds, and one tablespoon of olive oil. My second meal of the day is macadamia nuts, walnuts, flaxseed, pomegranate juice, pea protein, berries, and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. My third meal of the day is some veggies, you know, berries, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. And so it's extremely precise. Like I used to drink, for example, three ounces of red wine for breakfast because there are some benefits to red wine and I really enjoyed it. But ultimately it was 72 calories and I couldn't afford 72 calories. That's how tight we became with the diet. And then we'd measure my body and say, how are you doing? Like, what are the biomarkers? Report back. And we'd then iterate again. And so we did that with precision. And so I say, tongue in cheek, Blueprint is the most nutritious protocol built in human history, prove me wrong with your data. No one's proven anything any better.

Solana: There's an interesting question here about just diet in general. For something so fundamental, it seems that it's not very scientific. There aren't that many people who are trying to do any kind of, you know, measured diet. I would say even culturally, I feel like the people who are the most interested in this are actually Americans. In Europe, it's unthinkable to be sitting around talking about this kind of stuff, what you're eating. And in America, at least we've gotten to the stage where your identity can sometimes be wrapped up in your diet — to be a vegan or to be paleo or something, it means something about you and people like to think about it — but even still, you don't see what you're doing. You don't see people really demanding results. Why do you think that is?

Bryan Johnson: Well, so homo sapiens has been the most formidable form of intelligence on this planet for tens of thousands of years. And the most dominant form of intelligence has been through storytelling. It's only recently where data has superseded humans in its ability to come up with an answer, but just rarely. But in the areas where data exceeds storytelling, it dominates society, but there's still domains like health and wellness... storytelling still is the primary authority modality to decide on debates. And so that's why you have every health influencer out there basically being storytellers.

Solana: A little bit earlier, you said the thing that we all have in common is don't die. And you gave some great examples, you know, look both ways before you cross the street. And, I would say you can extend that to any kind of physical altercation or whatever. I mean, we have a survival instinct and you're right. But that seems to exist outside of the rational. So if you have to actually think about it and talk about it with your friends, for some reason it falls off and people are less willing to speak to what seems to be an obvious revealed preference.

In the press, I think we've really seen this quite a bit. And now I want to talk about that. I want to talk about what seems to be this block that people have, and we'll start with the media. So in response to your coming forward and speaking more about your work, press antagonism has been relentless.

In a couple of typical examples, you had Business Insider characterizing your crazy diet, then citing “scientists,” which is one of my favorite things in the world — they always find some random “scientists” to say what they want — all of them other than one were unnamed and they made sure after listing your diet to assert, there's no scientific evidence that your lifespan would increase because of this or could increase because of this. The Post mockingly indicated you spent $2 million to get an 18-year-old's body and Rolling Stone focused on a lot of the “weird” stuff, which would be like penis shockwave therapy and blood transfusions.

I see three buckets here. One: appearance. There is a focus on your aesthetics and aesthetics in general, and the aesthetics of this and how they make people feel. Two would be class. So you're using money. It’s like a rich person doing this. Automatically, like, is that good or bad? And finally, nature: the question of whether or not something is natural. And this is clocked as unnatural.

I want to start with nature. In descending order, from the most extreme to the most common, this always comes up: nature. The immortality people, the consciousness uploaders, the anti-agers, the biohackers, and then even just people who have a lot of cosmetic surgery, this comes up. If you have a nose job or something, if you work out too much, you see people who are like, "Oh, you don't need to do all this, this extreme body stuff, it's not natural.” Where do you think that critique comes from? The, “it is not natural to alter yourself”? There's not much of a question here, it's like, how would you respond to that? Because that is what's being put on you, that what you're doing is not natural. How do you think about that?

Bryan Johnson: I'll give you one high level answer. At a recent conference, I had two anti-aging scientists come up to me and they say, “We confess, we hated you. We thought you embarrassed the field. We thought that you were making us all look like clowns. We thought you were going to set us back a decade. Now six months later, we love you and we apologize, because we thought the future of anti-aging would be communicated through scientific publications. This protein does that and this DNA methylation, you know, whatever. It's actually communicated through the language of penis shockwave therapy, and pictures with kettlebells over your balls.” And that's the language of the internet. It's the language of the world. And so the vectors you're talking about, people are processing reality through the known terms they're familiar with. They're basically irrelevant. Like whatever framework a person brings to the discussion, they're just pulling up whatever's conveniently in their mind at that moment, but really it's insignificant. We're having this broader discussion about the future of being human and we take it on in these small bite sizes about "natural" and this and that, but it's all relevant in the bigger scheme of things: we're giving birth to superintelligence, what do we do? That's the conversation.

Solana: Do you think it comes from despair at all, a sense of hopelessness, that they don't believe that they can live forever? So you have to think of something and you think, well, it's natural. I have to die.

Bryan Johnson: Exactly. So this is like a little bit of a side tangent, but I'll bring it back: One of my favorite stories is, there's a Navy captain at sea, he receives a radio communication that says change 30º North. He radios back and says, change 20º South. They respond back, please immediate change 20º North. And he responds back: “I'm a captain of blankety blank fleet, you know, blankety blank, you change 20º North now.” And he gets a communication back: “I'm a lighthouse.” And this is my favorite thing because the captain is accustomed to his authority, always being able to triumph over anything that is in his way, and he finally encounters a foe that is unforgiving and unrelenting. He can't bomb his way through the situation. He can't run over the situation. He has no power. He's powerless. He's rendered powerless in that very moment. And when people are trying to generate arguments in their mind, they're really working in the past. Story by human is dead. It is a thing of entertainment. It is no longer power. And when you talk about health and wellness, what I've shown with Blueprint is that an algorithm takes better care of me than I can myself. I'll do story-based storytelling with myself, but data and algorithms are better at it than I am.

Solana: So I would push back a little bit on the story thing that you keep saying. You talked about the guys coming up to you, the researchers and they say, you know, it's penis shockwave therapy. That's how you're communicating. You're talking about memes and you're very good at this online. You are generating stories that are conveying this information. It's a different kind of storytelling, memetic sort of storytelling on Twitter. Are you not telling a story about longevity right now?

Bryan Johnson: So, you're right in that storytelling is how we reconcile with reality, but the power right now is in data and algorithms. And those are two different streams. So we can tell stories to each other. We can reconcile with each other. We can try to understand the world and reality.

But this is what I'm saying: in that moment when the captain realizes he's up against a lighthouse, he's better to flip on autopilot, because autopilot is going to survey the oceans, it's going to survey the rocks, and it's going to make decisions with data. Otherwise he's got to stop his ship and drop an anchor. He doesn't know how deep the water is. So the captain is useless with his power and authority. He must engage tools of automation and data and measurement. And so, yes, we're having this conversation about aging and health and wellness and societal norms and our addiction to addictions, and that's storytelling, yes. But really what I'm trying to convey is: we are in a spectacular moment. We're evolving as a species. It's a different game than we've ever played before.

Solana: Still on aesthetics for a moment because after the, "this isn't natural" question, I think a lot of people just find it weird. It looks weird. It feels weird. Do you have a sense of what it is about your presentation that has elicited such a strong reaction in people? I mean physical presentation. You have strange outfits and you know, the pictures and things. Could you describe it, what it is that's setting people off?

Bryan Johnson: I guess this is all just been play for me. I grew up in a religious environment. And my reality was everything I couldn't do. And then I left that reality. In one year's time I sold Braintree to Venmo, I left my born-into religion, I ended a 13-year marriage, I had just exited out of chronic depression. Like my entire reality changed at age 34 and my life went from what I can't do to everything I can do. And I've been on that for the past ten years: everything I can do. And so everything I wear and what I do and painting my fingernails… you know, I never could paint my fingernails. Do I want to paint my fingernails? I don't know. Do I want to grow my hair out? I don't know. Do I want to wear, you know, midriffs? I don't know. Like it's just fun and I'm just doing me and I don't have anyone, any institution — I have no power over me that's going to punish me for doing it. No one can fire me. Nobody can cancel me, I'm just doing my thing and so I don't know, whatever it is, I'm just having fun. It's not like some master plan, where we've charted out the next 12 months and we're like “now we're gonna get 'em with midriffs,” you know? It's just like we're just messing around.

Solana: Have you noticed a difference in the way that people treat you? Because you physically have transformed. You see photos of you, or even when I met you, was that six years ago? It feels like a very long time ago. You look very different. Has the world received you — separate from the internet's reaction — just in your day to day, have people treated you differently? Do you have any interesting stories there?

Bryan Johnson: I mean, the online world is like a full-contact sport. In person, people have been extraordinarily generous. And it's never been easier for me to make friends. It's never been easier for me to get in touch with people. It's never been easier for me to strike up a conversation. It's fantastic. I've never had more fun in my entire life.

Solana: I do see you having fun, even online. I mean, this is something that I try to do myself in my own work. I try and find humor in things. It's like a great equalizer. It’s like a bridge that you build: if you can both laugh at something, it doesn't even matter that you're disagreeing. I've noticed you doing it, and it sounds like it is sort of a conscious effort on your part to connect with people on a human level while you convey this message.

Bryan Johnson: Humor is one of the universal languages. Everyone gets it. And so the formula in this rambunctious world is not no, but. It's yes, and. So, if somebody wants to make fun of me, it's always yes, and. I'll be the butt of the joke, I'll play along. I'm cool with it. Let's make fun of me. I'm great with it. Like it's just good fun. And so, yeah, I've really leaned into it and it's been very successful.

Solana: I hate to even harp so much on the pushback in the press, cause it sounds like you already answered all these questions when you said people are going to reach for whatever is flitting through their mind in that moment to resist the concept of longevity, living forever, anti-aging. But there is one that comes up a lot, which is class. A lot of the procedures you're doing and just the things that you're doing in life are very expensive. And this is not at all just a longevity thing, this is a broader, I think, technology conversation, where any time someone is doing something new and expensive with technology, this comes up. What are your thoughts on the class conversation? You're able to drop 2 million to do X, Y, and Z, but not everybody is. And is this good for you or good for the world, or what?

Bryan Johnson: The other day someone made the remark that Blueprint was the most effective philanthropic endeavor in history, that if you basically quantified the effect, and you look at where it's at now and where it will be in a few years time, that it will outstrip anything ever done. Now, whatever, let's put that aside. Whether it's hyperbole or not, whatever. But at least people are thinking about that in those terms, where the millions I have spent, it's been to make everything free for everybody. And it's really trying to change the zeitgeist around things where we are a society addicted to addiction. It is very hard when your friends want to do something, and you're left out or you're the odd one out, and they want you to do something, but they're going to make fun of you if you don't. And so we're all kind of trapped into a system where we've socially trapped each other and then corporations are using their god-like powers to addict us to their foods and digital media and everything else. It’s really a helpless situation out there. Which I think is why a lot of people are so strongly motivated to fight this, because they feel helpless. You said this, and their helplessness comes out in the form of hate directed towards me. But with Blueprint, the millions of dollars I've spent has not been on my therapies. They've been on the scientific process of measurement and figuring this thing out. Blueprint can be done for like a thousand dollars a month. It's very, very low cost. And someone can achieve 80 percent of my benefits by doing the basics: sleep, exercise, diet, and avoiding bad stuff. So it is accessible to all. That is not the point. People are reacting to their feeling of helplessness.

Solana: You said something a little bit earlier: your whole task is not to die. Every day you look up, you measure yourself. It's like, how was I dying? And you try and reverse that, stop that, do something else. Beyond the reaction from the press to your work, I'm interested , how do you think about enjoying the present versus optimizing for the future? You know, if your whole work is dedicated to not dying, what is life to you? What is it? What does a good life look like to you?

Bryan Johnson: I love this question so much. This is where everyone goes because they'll say like the dude is so concerned about not dying. He's not living life. And they feel like, wham, I nailed him, right? Like I've got him in the corner now. Like he's buried and can't come back. And so if you put this in some historical perspective, you know, in Buddha's time, if you're ambitious, what do you do? Or you're like, well, you're going to figure out a new scheme to try to minimize suffering because life just kind of sucks. If you're Alexander the Great, you want to raise your army and conquer an empire. If you're Da Vinci, you're just very curious. So you live in a time and place and you're an ambitious person, what can you do? Like what's in your power? And so I just say like in this moment, what is different now than ever has been, is before this, death has unquestionably been inevitable. And so the question is, what do you do with your time that you're alive? Raise an army and conquer something, discover something that's not been invented, write a book, you know, love others, like whatever, like you find your game. And this is what I'm trying to say, this is the biggest revolution in the history of Homo sapiens. There's been nothing bigger. We're transitioning from the inevitability of death to maybe some unknown time from a wellness which we can't comprehend.

Solana: What is your evidence, because I am like Fox Mulder with the UFO behind me and the thing that says "I want to believe." I'm very much aligned with this as a goal. What gives you hope that we are about to transition in this way? They could be anything from breakthroughs in science to a shift in consciousness. What are you seeing out there that is giving you that hope?

Bryan Johnson: After I sold Braintree to Venmo, I invested a hundred million dollars in some deep tech: synthetic biology, genomics, computational therapeutics, metal organic frameworks like nanotechnology and precision chemistry. I've seen this progress in the trenches over the past ten years, our ability as a species to reliably, predictably engineer the physical world, atoms and molecules, organisms, genes, gene systems. It's just in the past year, past ten years. And then if you say, what can a focused group like DeepMind do? If you take competent AI infrastructure and you apply it to a problem like protein folding, like first AlphaGo, then protein folding, now fusion — they were able to solve problems that humans thought were unsolvable. And they did so very, very fast. So if you pair up this idea that we now have thousands of groups around the world building better AI systems, we now have control of all the physical elements that make us, us. You don't have to map too far ahead to say, this gets really interesting, really fast.

Solana: Where do you anticipate the next big successes? Or maybe even hope, but what do you see as the most promising frontier here?

Bryan Johnson: I mean, for example, I've reduced my speed of aging by the equivalent of 31 years. So people would commonly know how much they weigh and how much money's in the bank account and how many social media followers they have. Like these are numbers people have in their mind. A number that's going to be very common that people will know is how fast you're aging. And so in your body, it's like you create these tree rings of sorts, these chemical signatures which reveal how fast you're aging.

Solana: People think of aging typically as how long you've been on the planet and you're defining it as how fast your body is breaking down.

Bryan Johnson: Exactly. You can be chronologically 30 years old, but biologically you can be 50. Or you can be 60 years old chronologically and biologically 40. A person's biological age is different from their chronological age.

Solana: And so you've seen your own personal biological age, not only the speed of it has slowed down, it's reversed, has it not?

Bryan Johnson: Exactly.

Solana: And there's a series of tests that you run to measure that?

Bryan Johnson: Exactly, on a routine basis. So your question is, what gives me hope? Well, we started this endeavor to say, first, can we measure every organ of my body and can we determine its biological age? So I'm 46 chronologically. But what age is my brain and my heart and my lungs and my pancreas and my kidney and my fitness scores? And so we tried to biologically age everything and then we said, okay now let's look at the scientific evidence. Can we slow down my speed of aging in every way possible? And can we reverse the biological age of my body's organs?

And that's what we've been doing systematically for three years. Of course, the discussion with the headlines is, "Oh, he looks like [blank]", but that's such a primitive way to understand my endeavor, because to fully understand the success of Blueprint, you have to look at my data from all my organs. Like the eyes alone are totally inadequate to make any rendering, which is fine. Like that's where the discussion's at, but you're not capturing the liver or the heart or the lungs or my cardiovascular risk. And so right now, my speed of aging is 0.69, which means just in a layman's term for every 12 months that passes, I get September, October, November, and December for free.

So while everyone else is aging, I get those four months for free. And so what gives me hope is just since I've started the project, I've dramatically slowed my speed of aging. And now we're seeing what things do slow my speed of aging, what things increase my speed of aging. So now you say, okay, the world's got these amazing tools of artificial intelligence and new biological abilities of engineering and the physical world. What drugs can we create? What interventions can we create? What insights can we have? And you start notching that down. So let's say next year, I can get to 0.65. Next year, I can get to 0.60, the following year, 0.55, who knows? But if we just start getting really, really good at don't dying, you can see in a matter of five years, it may be the case that my speed of aging, I'm getting, you know, May through December for free. Who knows? But we don't need very many breakthroughs for that to happen. It's already happening right now. We're already punching down this number on a routine basis.

Solana: This is just a kind of obvious question that everyone wants to know: what do we have to do? What are the things that you've learned? What do we need to be eating? How do we need to be exercising? What are the insights that you have gleaned while on this journey? And I would say just on top of the insights that you've gleaned, I'm wondering how much of your day is devoted to this versus random other personal things. How much do you have to be focused on this to get the benefits?

Bryan Johnson: It's pretty minimal. So I'd say just four or five things. One, go to bed on time. Choose a bedtime, whatever your bedtime is, and go to bed. Number one, make sleep your number one life priority. It's your most important meeting of the day. Don't be late. Don't miss it. Don't change it. Do it every single day. Nothing changes a person's conscious experience of life more than sleep. When we are poorly rested, we are grumpy and we make bad decisions. When we're well rested, we're excited and have willpower. So sleep. Number two, exercise every single day. It doesn't matter if you just walk, if you do a few things here and there, just make sure you're moving your body. Three, have a good diet. You don't need to have my entire diet, but just eat good foods and don't do bad stuff. Don't eat junk food. Don't eat too much food. That's really kind of it. Like you have a few things you can add on the end, but the majority of the things are there.

Solana: It's funny because that sounds almost like comments — these are pieces of wisdom that have been imparted to us forever. Just maybe people aren't listening to them.

Bryan Johnson: Exactly. That's what's so amazing, right? It's like this whole thing, when you boil it down, it's like, oh, we figured out the basics really do work. I've done this whole thing and it's like, oh, actually sleep and diet exercise really works. Then once you get to the fourth point, you can start optimizing for your EPA levels and your vitamin D and like this and that. But you're really then on an optimization curve of trying to get that done. But yeah, I mean, the basics are really great. And honestly, the biggest one is to stop self-destructive behavior. And if you just start, if you make a journal, just one day, you record all the things that you think could potentially be self-destructive, like you grab a bag of potato chips from the vending machine because there's nothing else to eat. You go to bed two hours later than you think, you eat too much food right before dinner, you have a dessert, you drink too much alcohol, you smoke a cigarette. You don't exercise. When you make your list and you look at it, you're like, Oh damn, I did eleven things today that actually increased my speed of aging and it accelerated the onset of disease and disability. And that's the biggest thing: our self-destructive behaviors just dominate our lives and we can't see it.

Solana: You mentioned dessert. Separate from the obvious smoking, which you mentioned, would you say that sugar is sort of the one thing that is in almost all of our diets that is the most destructive, or is there something else that you would — if you could snap your fingers and everyone would become aware of a danger in their life — would it be that one or would it be something else?

Bryan Johnson: I don't eat a gram of processed sugar. I eat berries, but outside of that, I eat no sugar. We do not seek it out and it causes inflammation. It's pretty bad for you. It changes your blood glucose and insulin and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, if you can eliminate sugar, it's really much better.

Solana: Sort of two related questions before my final. If you could start over in your early twenties, how would you have shaped your life? And the related second question is, if someone wants to begin their own longevity journey, where should they begin?

Bryan Johnson: It's hard for me not to feel emotional when I think about this question because 20-year-old Bryan was just so goddamn excited about life, you know, just absolutely overflowing with excitement and ambition and aspirations. And he didn't have anybody in his life that could give him practical advice on how to take care of himself, how to brush your teeth, how to deal with bruxism, if you're so stressed from everything you're doing in life that you're grinding your teeth, how do you fix that? What do you eat for breakfast? What is appropriate for exercise? Like these absolute basics, no one taught me. And I tried my best, jumping around, like reading this and that, and I tried to learn, but everyone disagrees with everyone. And then you're like, what do I do? Because does anyone know? And how do I know if my stuff is working? So I was wandering lost for 20 years. And I really destroyed my mind and body, building startups. I was a part of grind culture. And when you're ragged and beat up and worn down and graying early and losing your hair, that's like, ah, he must be doing something interesting because, yeah, he's got all the signs of it. And it led me to having ten years of chronic depression. And so I really hope I can be a source of positive influence in people and say, you can do epic things in life. You can be the person you want to be in the most wild aspirations that you can imagine. And you don't need to pummel yourself with self-destruction. There's a better way. And that's ultimately what I'm trying to do, just a slight shift. Not to dampen anyone's ambition, not to take away their day, but just steer, just nudge ever-so-slightly in a more positive direction.

Solana: You mentioned a little bit earlier, you were very religious. Do you mind talking about this at all?

Bryan Johnson: Yeah, sure. I'm willing to talk about everything.

Solana: I believe you said that you were once in a very intense religion. Is that correct? Would you consider yourself today no longer religious?

Bryan Johnson: I think that question probably exceeds my ability to be self-aware. Most likely I replaced the extremeness I was in with the extremeness I am in now, so I just wouldn't even dare venture my self-awareness on this.

Solana: My question is related to this and the way that we think about God and I think, on the one hand, there's something that feels very religious about resistance to the idea of this, and when you say, well, death is natural, and there's a process, it's spiritual and whatnot. And I think a lot of people who casually touch the immortality or the anti-aging subject come to this conclusion that it's religious people who don't want this. But the person who first introduced me to all of this, to the question of whether or not we have to die, is one of the only really serious Christians in tech, I think. And that's Peter Thiel. He was the first one who really introduced it to me. It's interesting, like I was introduced to it all by a Christian and there is something about it, I think, that is... I guess I'm wondering if being more Christian or religious would actually open you up to this idea because key to most of these faiths is a concept of life everlasting, whereas the atheist has no such concept at all. You have to become much more comfortable with the concept of life ending as an atheist than you do a Christian. And in Christianity, the goal is to live forever. So if the goal is to live forever, maybe you just table the religious component, let's say for a second, the goal is the same. It is to be alive forever. How do you think religion plays into this question both broadly and personally for you?

Bryan Johnson: Yeah. We're born into this world and before we have mental faculties to pose the questions ourselves, we're told why we exist. We're told what is valued or not valued. And so it could be that you're told that dying in war is the most glorious outcome you could achieve. Or that abiding by these set of commandments to please an omnipotent being is a thing that is valued. We're given these systems when we're born. And then some of us take a moment and say, wait a second, is this what I think is really the case, or is this something that's been told to me? And so in my case, I was told like, “Hey, you're here to prove your worthiness to this omnipotent being, and if you can obey these rules, you get this afterlife that goes on in perpetuity.” And it's like, that's a pretty good deal. Like, okay, so I can follow these rules, you're telling me that it's endless gameplay? I'm in. Like, that's cool. All right. And then, when I got my head around it and I was like, wait a second, I am not sure if this whole thing is actually going to deliver on the promises it's made to me. I mean, it's a hypothesis that you have to test upon death. So unless someone can die and come back to me and be like, “Actually, Bryan, it's legit, everything we are told was going to be true is actually true,” I have no idea if it's true. And so then when it reaches a point where you're like, okay, if I'm mapping out technological progress and I'm looking at biology and science and I'm making this map, I think this thing could actually deliver on a promise. Now, Blueprint, I have never said ever that I'm after eternal life. Ever. I have said, I'm after don't die. And they're very different ideas. Humans cannot process eternity. We cannot process living forever. It breaks our brains. It ruins the moment. It ruins the conversation. Don't die is the only thing we understand and don't die right now is the only thing we understand.

A person can walk across the street and look both ways and smoke a cigarette at the same time. All we understand is don't die right now. We don't understand don't die next week; it's right now. And that's what I've focused on, because that's the thing we all understand. You and I are both conscious beings on this earth, on this planet, on this ball in space, like what a wild situation. What do we do? What is the next moment? In this next moment, what do I say? What do I think? How do I apply my energy? And of all the innumerable number of actions I could take, what do I do? And to me, the only rational thing to do in this moment is don't die. Outside of that, I have no idea on what guides us next. But I mean, I don't know, I've really tried to compress reality into some sensible, practical, understandable thing.

Solana: In the piece I would like to really illustrate your day. I know you say it's not that much of your time is put into this and you mentioned some of the tests, and you mentioned your diet, which was really helpful, but is there anything else that I'm missing? What goes into this work for you personally every day, like tests that you run and weird things that you do? You mentioned the penis thing. Like, what is that? How often do you do it? Tell me.

Bryan Johnson: Okay. Yeah. I'll run you through some of the tangibles. My day begins the night before. I go to bed at the same time, every single night. I just achieved an eight-month perfect sleep score. So a hundred percent perfect using WHOOP. And it was almost like the four-minute mile or Amelia Earhart flying across the Atlantic, no human in history with a wearable has shown this level of sleep performance. According to record, I'm the best sleeper on the planet. There may be people better than me. Probably are, but at least I've demonstrated it. And so I wanted to show that you can achieve high quality sleep every single night. It's not this weird thing we can't control. It starts the night before when I make sleep my number one priority.

I wake up around 5 a.m. and then for four hours, I do a morning routine. I'll get very granular for a moment with you and then I'll kind of blow out. But I start with light therapy. I have 10,000 lux of light that I'm exposed to for two or three minutes, to get some light in my eyes. I take two pills, some Proferrin (iron), and some vitamin C. I measure my inner ear temperature because I'm always measuring temperature to see response to therapies.

I'll then do 10 minutes of this red and blue light for collagen growth, skin health. I'll then go downstairs, I'll drink 20 ounces of a pre-workout concoction. I'll take 60 pills, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. I'll then do HRV [Hearth Rate Variability] therapy for 10 minutes. I'll put a red light cap on my head for hair growth. I'll work out for an hour, I'll do around 45 different exercises. Come in, I'll do 12 minutes of red light therapy with these two big panels. We've done all the math for the exposure. I'll shower, then come down and eat my breakfast, which is a few pounds of vegetables, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Begin my work day. I'll work for three or four hours. Then I meet with my medical team for two hours every day. We go over my data, my results. We talk about the science. We talk about what's next, you know, if we're doing pancreatic rejuvenation, thymus rejuvenation, heart analysis. I'll then meet with two or three doctors in the afternoon, sometimes at the house, sometimes at their places here in Los Angeles. And we'll do various things. So we may be doing a brain protocol or doing MRI. So then I'll finish those appointments in two or three hours. I'll come home and do another couple hours of therapies. I'll do some socialization with friends and family, and I'll go to bed. So it's just scattered throughout the entire day, but it is one fluid movement, between Blueprint and Kernel and everything going on at one time.

Solana: It does feel almost ritualistic in nature, the fact that it's every day, even the sleep thing. And I think about this in the context of religion a lot because I think that religion, as we lose it — I think we're losing things that we don't quite understand, I think some of it is probably good to lose and a lot of it probably not because we convey so much information with story and stories are just really a lot of information packed into very small amounts of words — that's how I think of what a story is.

I think there's like all sorts of stuff that we've lost that we have not even realized. And rituals, they seem like they don't do anything, but this is a ritual. It's baked into your day. It's every day you do the same thing or a series of roughly the same things, and you've seen a benefit in that. I guess it's not much of a question, but do you see the parallel there?

Bryan Johnson: Yeah, I do… there's just no point in me trying to be serious about myself. There's no point in me trying to come up with some kind of elaborate explanation about me or my thoughts or how I do things. I'm just one big ironic happenstance. And it's just the truth. I can't see it. I'm blind to it. That's just reality. But yes, I think you're right. The ritual is very true.

We're also doing this to try to maintain controls in our experimentation. I am the control. I just got a hundred million young Swedish mesenchymal stem cells (bone marrow) injected. And we're trying to see, does that have the effect across 15 epigenetic markers? And to have that, you need to isolate certain conditions. So for one, my sleep is constant. My diet is constant. My exercise is constant. One of the criticisms of Blueprint is, "you're doing so many things you can't isolate them," which is actually a valid contemplation point. So we try to isolate as much as we can and keep as many controls as we can. And so that's why the team and I try to build this algorithm, and I try to be the perfect adherent to the algorithm because we're trying to isolate insights that illuminate what is causing death inside of me. We’re really trying to tease that out above all, because we're trying to inch that number down so that when we show something to be true, we can say, hey, everybody else, start doing this thing because it's going to inch your don't die down one more notch.

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