‘We all play don’t die every day – now let’s get really, really good at it’

Longevity explorer Bryan Johnson looks forward to humanity’s next evolutionary chapter.

Bryan Johnson is the world’s most famous biohacker – and perhaps the “most measured man in human history”. He’s on a mission to maximally reverse the quantified biological age of each of his 70 organs, extending his lifespan and healthspan, and then roll out his protocol on a platform to ensure others can benefit from his experience, research and experimentation.

Johnson’s ethos can be summed up pretty neatly as don’t die, and to that end, he has written a book, or novel, to be more accurate, entitled Don’t Die, the uncorrected advanced reading version of which is downloadable as a free ebook from his website. Johnson’s nom de plume for this venture is Zero, described in the book as the “first individual H. sapiens to surpass five hundred years of age,” who dies in 2478 (in an accident, rather than from old age), just weeks away from “becoming Homo Deus.” Johnson credits Zero with the invention of Zeroism and the resurrection technology undie, as well as the fathering of “millions of biological and digital offspring who now live in the far reaches of the solar system and beyond”.

Longevity.Technology: Because Don’t Die is a novel, Johnson can explore his philosophy in a different way, inviting us to observe the narrator, Scribe, on his last day on Earth, as he muses on humanity’s future evolution, the nature of death and free will and the impact of age reversal and programmable biology. Scribe is joined by a Pilgrim’s Progress-like cast of characters, including Cognitive Bias, Dark Humor and Game Play and Self Critical.

Johnson’s Blueprint started out as a science experiment to explore the future; he has since expanded it to be a plan for the future of humanity, a plan that is more than a health, science or data revolution. He now styles it as “a revolution of thought. Of action. Of actions not taken.” And Blueprint is also a character in Don’t Die. It was time to unpack Johnson’s philosophy in more detail, so we sat down with him to find out more about his book and what else is going on with him…

Bryan Johnson on…

A longevity journey a long time in the making

The universe is 13.8 billion years old, roughly – it’s always changing. Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and where evolution created us, we have now created artificial intelligence; so intelligence has created intelligence. We’re baby steps away from super intelligence, and so what Don’t Die is trying to address is what do we do now? And if you look through the history of society, religions would have an answer, capitalism would have an answer, certain other frameworks would have an answer, and they would say: “Here’s how you understand reality and here’s what you do with a given situation”.

Don’t Die is an effort to try to strike up a fresh conversation – what now? It basically tries to fill a void saying that the structures of society today, from capitalism to religions, really don’t offer meaningful things to say right now, that ideologically they are not up to this.

The genesis was suppers with friends where we’d discuss what does it mean to be human right now, what if you could access an algorithm that would allow you to achieve near-perfect health, what do you owe to your future self? How can we emotionally process all the complicated questions we’re up against? The book tries to capture that essence, told through characters of myself. I have tried to make the debate that the reader will swing between the different sides of the arguments – Don’t Die is the dialogue that has been going on in my brain for ten years.

Longevity poster boy

The scientists who thought I discredited the longevity field have changed their tune. They thought the future of antiaging would be communicated through scientific papers and lifespan studies, not through what they termed the ‘absurdity’ of what I’ve been doing online – posting nudes with kettlebells, penis shockwave therapy, mesenchymal stem cells from young Swedish bone marrow, &c. But they told me I speak the language of the internet and allow people to engage in longevity in ways they understand. What I’m doing somehow hit, it struck a note – it’s a language that people speak and understand.

Blueprint and beyond

When I started blueprint, it was simply a scientific experiment, it was a hobby. No-one cared about Blueprint for two years, even though I was out there publicly. Then it hit and it really struck a nerve, and people want to do it, but they want it to be easy.

So, over the past seven months, we’ve built a family of Blueprint products, which includes powders and pills and shakes and stuff like that. And I would put forward that we are competing for – calorie for calorie, dollar for dollar – the most nutritious food product in history. It’s based on the evidence we could find, and that will launch in 60-90 days. We trying to make it simple and affordable – meal planning, exercise and sleep – and I think we’ll probably save people money on their groceries.

Don’t Die by Zero will be available on Amazon as both a printed version and an audiobook in the future, but the free, downloadable ebook will remain on Johnson’s website

Photograph: Magdalena Wosinska