Upcoming $101,000,000 Age-reversal X-Prize

The Foresight Institute Biotech & Health Extension group has just posted an hour long interview with Bryan Johnson, subject of the Bloomberg article.

I have only watched the first ten minutes: very curious, very California. Makes me glad I am nine time zones from that place and wish it were a few more.


Good news from the New York Post article: "For the latest study, researchers from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, followed 139 patients with obesity …"

So it looks like China is now pursuing their obesity gap with the West. That will teach them for closing the steel manufacturing gap, the automobile manufacturing gap, the shipbuilding gap, the electronics gap …

To be more serious, what underlies any of these studies is that some people find it easier to skip meals while other people find it easier to have smaller meals. Either way, the route to health is through the two most fearsome words in the English language – diet and exercise.


You’re a better man than I am, Gunga, I stopped after 18 seconds.


I am surprised his results are not better. Any one of the several dozen things he does would be expected to provide substantial results relative to the average person.


There have been studies that said many people immediately go from the gym to the donut shop. Weight gain after exercise is donuts, not muscle mass. Wonder if that’s why so many gyms have donuts or fast food nearby?


I had been wondering about this. It is not like most of these guys live a healthy life style. I wondered about their genetics. Buffet’s father lived to be 60 and his mother 92. Soros’s father lived to 74. Munger’s mother lived to 78 and his father 67 or 68. I wouldn’t say these are the best genetics. Kissinger’s parents both lived into their 90s (father 97) so he probably has good genetics.


Thank you for sharing the video. It’s funny. Isn’t this the 2023 version of Ray Kurzweil’s attempt to supplement himself to longevity circa early 2000s? This old Wired article comes to mind (source)

The video is a bit dumbed down compared to Ray Kurzweil’s quest for longevity. Also, Bryan Johnson is nowhere near the intellectual ability level of Kurzweil. His approach can be summed up as “appeal to authority” + measuring night time erections. That sells quite a bit more these days.

Separately, Foresight Institute is one of what I call a special kind of 21st century grifter.. I see more and more of these “institutes”, “foundations”, “collectives” that follow a common pattern. Typically, it’s a young (or youngish) attractive person (male/female) that usually has a British accent (but German could work in a pinch). Their pitch is along the lines of offering a “platform to discuss the important issues” of the day. The COVID lockdown was a boon for these entities.

Just in case you like the genre, here’s a 3-year old video with Aubrey de Grey and the same Foresight Institute interviewer.

EDIT: FI is not a grifter, though some of their recent videos come across like that.


Foresight Institute was founded in 1986 by Eric Drexler, Christine Peterson, and James Bennett to explore the development of nanotechnology (molecular-level engineering and manufacturing) and communicate to the public the risks and benefits of nanotechnology and steer policy toward beneficial outcomes. They have sponsored conferences since the 1980s at which researchers present work on various aspects of nanotechnology and award the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, with two awards per year for theoretical and experimental work respectively.

If a grifter is one who exploits the gullibility and/or ignorance of others in order to enrich themselves, I can assure you the founders of Foresight have utterly failed in achieving that end.


You are right, I exaggerated with calling FI a grift. In my defense, some of their recent videos have strong grift overtones, particularly those on longevity, NFTs and the like. And I was not aware of their earlier 1980s history. Thank you for pointing that out.


First of all I have to confess that due to my bias against Drexler, I ended up not being part of the PayPal mafia. That’s a long story, but I figured I should say that up front before I lay into the Foresight Institute and nanotech.

I had some difficulty with a few members of the San Diego L5 Society due to their obsession with nanotech. They actually argued against sacrificing to get the Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990 passed on the grounds that we should be using some nanotech CAD program to design self-replicating seeds to industrialize space, etc. Andy Cutler, the individual who did more than any other individual to get the law passed, was really pissed at Drexler about this distraction. Cutler’s PhD was in physical chemistry, from Princeton, and he considered Engines of Creation science fiction. Cutler took over as editor of Space Solar Power Review upon Glaser’s retirement – so he was more than a little knowledgeable. I took Andy’s opinions very seriously. That plus my first-hand experience with young guys getting side-tracked contributed to my bias.

As for the Foresight Institute, I’ve never gotten Hanson to acknowledge Algorithmic Information Theory – despite Minsky’s final advice to the field of prediction that they spend all their time studying it for the rest of their lives. Now, I’m not going to try to defend Minsky’s reputation here since it was during the 2nd IJCNN that I was trying to sell a digital video convolution system to perform image segmentation which was the closest thing anyone had to a GPU at the time, and would have set the field forward a decade if I’d managed to get it sold. At that conference Minsky took the stage as the plenary speaker and people booed and hissed, for reasons that Sejnowski explains in his recent interview with Wolfram. BUT having said that, as far as I’m concerned, Minsky made up for all of that in his final advice – advice that the Foresight Institute has ignored along with the entire ML industry as well as the entire field of the natural sciences for the last half century. So, there is THAT. Moreover, the connection between the Foresight Institute and the Lifeboat Institute interfered with my attempt to get Algorithmic Information to be used by Oxford at the start of the COVID pandemic as model selection. These guys aren’t the intellectual heavyweights they are cracked up to be – confusing a degenerate form of Minimum Description Length Bayesian Information Criterion with Algorithmic Information Criterion.

While the idea of prediction markets has merit, for obvious reasons, ideosphere and metaculus (and other such non-monetary markets) have a fatal flaw: They are unable to address the black swans due to the way they treat very low and very high probability outcomes. The most egregious case is the judgement against CFsn at ideosphere. The real money prediction market judged positively on a virtually identical claim. I went all in on CFsn because, basically, I considered it make or break for the credibility of ideosphere on the very purpose for which it had been created.

To quote Colonel Kurtz: " If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly."


Hanson seems like a reasonable guy, and he is open to exploring unconventional ideas (e.g. grabby aliens); why wasn’t he willing to acknowledge algorithmic information theory (AIT)? And why do you think AIT is neglected in general, despite the apparently superior predictive power of models created according to the AIT criterion?


He’s not the first pill-popper:

Pauling himself took 18,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day; the RDA for adults is 60 milligrams. But time and disease caught up with him when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December, 1991

Maybe we can have a Scanalyst-branded salad dressing using vitamin C for acidity?


Fourmilab already publishes an Open Sauce™ salad dressing recipe. In addition, there’s a guide to pill-popping, “FourmiPharm: Dietary Supplements to Combat Aging”.

As regards Linus Pauling, living to age 93 and remaining scientifically and intellectually active his entire life (here is a scientific paper he authored the month of his death, published in 1994, “Analysis of a Hyperdeformed Band of ^{152}_{~66}{\rm Dy}_{86} on the Basis of a Structure with Two Revolving Clusters, each with a Previously Unrecognized Two-Tiered Structure” [PDF]), sounds pretty good to me.


Over the years I have been loosely keeping track of our host’s supplement page. I always found it interesting in how it evolved over time and I for one appreciate the transparency. Thank you for doing that John, I found it useful.

The more I think about what prompts me and others in my demographic to investigate these topics is, I think, driven by two factors. One is the realization of one’s own impending demise, which I believe has always registered with many, if not most people, irrespective of the historical period.

The other factor, which I believe acts as a catalyst, is the much more readily available access to supplements and information around that. This is no longer new, but 20+ years ago, it was still a novelty and it looked it could provide - at least initially - some upside.


A good starting point is my prediction market claim at metaculus on the use of lossless compression in macrosocial model selection.

One might notice that a pseudonym suddenly appeared to attack me and then disappeared from metaculus shortly thereafter. Another, similar, attack appeared over at ycombinator when I brought up the possibility of exploiting the market failure. Both attacks came off as sounding like they knew what they were talking about but it is clear that their purpose was to poison the conversation. There is an advantage to possessing the truth about society that others don’t. So I don’t discount the possibility that work in this area is a trade secret of Wall Street and the intelligence community. Whether they need to hire attack dogs or not is another question.

LessWrong’s low signal to noise level around AIT’s applicability in model selection probably played a big role in giving guys like Robin an excuse not to. The Hutter Prize may have been the only time in history up to that point* where a fair contest in the natural sciences was set forth: Everyone gets the same set of data – now do your best to model it. LessWrong’s response was to blather so guys in the singularity world would ignore it.

I probably should have pestered him but I tend not to bother if I don’t get a response. Otherwise, if I had to guess: It is because he doesn’t see the necessity as it pertains to his reputation. To paraphrase a saying from back in the old days of computers: “No one ever got fired for NOT explaining why they bought IBM rather than Control Data.” Anders Sandberg and Peter Turney are the only two who have risked their reputation by responding directly. In the case of those two benighted individuals, they did so-risk a response, which puts them head and shoulders among those who didn’t.

In the case of Sandberg and Turney, they basically want empirical evidence that AIT is superior to statistical information criteria such as BIC, etc before they’ll stick their necks out. That’s an honest and respectable stance, even if wholly inadequate to the catastrophic situation we face. When I say “respectable” I mean it in the same sense as “respectable conservative”. But at least its a stance, however unheroic. Good for them! (I agreed with Turney, way back in the aforelinked 2007 blog, that experimental evidence was important – throwing down the gauntlet to him to operationalize what he meant by "experimental evidence – and despite his posture requiring him to do so, he failed to take up that gauntlet.
This is typical of these conversations.)

But does it really take a hero to recognize that when one embarks on creating a model of reality that one has already accepted “the effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences”? Moreover, as one is obligated to make predictions in order to test one’s model, one is further obligated to go into a particular realm of mathematics involving algorithms:

The mathematics of state transitions: From the given state to the predicted state.

That’s the basic problem I have with everyone. It shouldn’t have taken Solomonoff’s proof, nor Minsky’s final and very forceful admonition to recognize that the shortest algorithm “describing the data” is the formalization of Ockham’s Razor, nor that one is presupposing Ockham’s Razor in the practice of natural science.

Machiavelli said it best:

And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.

*Kaggle is often viewed as a fair contest given a set of data – and it is certainly an advance – but I’ve asked them if I could conduct a lossless compression-based prize via their platform and their response has been a big DUH?. Ever since the Netflix Prize was announced shortly after The Hutter Prize, everyone wants to divide the data into a training set and a test set and have performance on the test set be the metric. This gets into all kinds of nasty issues, some of which Marcus Hutter addressed in the Hutter Prize FAQ at my insistence. But probably the biggest problem with Kaggle isn’t that it falls victim to those issues in particular, but rather that, as we see in the social pseudosciences, all models are specialized rather than unified. Hence my repeated use of the phrase “macrosocial model” regarding the potentially existential crisis we face.


Much shorter “BBC Reel”:

Some interesting things like reprogramming his hearing.

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Here is a link to Bryan Johnson’s blueprint.

Here is what he says the eating and supplementation costs.


Monthly Blueprint cost = $1,684.50
Daily Calories = 1,977

Food Costs
$44.91 / day (vary by geography)

  • The Green Giant: $9.91
  • Super Veggie: $11
  • Nutty Pudding: $11
  • Third meal: $11
  • Other: $2 (i.e. extra virgin olive oil, brazil nuts)

Supplements Costs
$11.24 / day

  • Morning: $5.76
  • Dinner: $5.48

Kitchen Readiness Costs
(one time cost)
Total approx ~$500

Initial Test Costs
(every 3 to 6 mths)
Total: ~$350

  • Blood panel

Daily Calories
1,977 daily calories

  • Green Giant - 150

  • Nutty Pudding - 310

  • Pea Protein - 260

  • Super Veggie - 379

  • Olive Oil - 240 (2 Tbsp daily)

  • Dark chocolate - 138

  • Third meal - 500


I agree with some critics. He doesn’t look that good. He seems to have changed to some non-binary appearance that is slightly freakish. He certainly doesn’t make me feel comfortable.


Meanwhile, this dog just hit 31: