The Future Wants You Healthy

Last year I turned 40 years old. Within thirty years I will be 70. I’m participating in The Quantified Diet study because I want to be active, healthy, and involved over the next few decades. These thirty years cover various mind-boggling predictions about technology and humanity that I want to be around to witness, to engage with, if they come true. For example, Vernor Vinge predicted in 1993 that:

“Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.”

Vinge’s focus on the arrival of superhuman intelligence as spark for this event is just one version of the Technological Singularity concept (and the one I favor.) Ray Kurzweil has more recently broadened the idea and predicts that around 2045 the event will result in a primarily non-biological human-machine civilization:

“It’s a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.”

Not to be left out, I have also been making predictions about our future, including the arrival of the Metaverse and the subsequent Great Vanishing of consumer electronics and other artifacts as they shrink in size and disappear into our bodies:

“Within twenty years, a new mass medium — the Metaverse — will emerge to take advantage of a global computing, communications, and sensing platform — the next-generation internet. The Metaverse will quickly subsume all other mass media and internet-enabled services, including the web. The consumer electronics industry will enjoy unprecedented success by providing to billions of people around the world a bewildering number of Metaverse-enabled consumer electronics. The industry will abruptly collapse, however, with the advent and mass consumer adoption of brain-machine interfaces and other deeply integrated biotechnologies. By 2030, the “Great Vanishing” of consumer electronics and other physical human artifacts will have begun as their capabilities are threaded into our biology.”

One of the components of the Metaverse as defined by the Metaverse Roadmap is Lifelogging:

“In lifelogging, augmentation technologies record and report the intimate states and life histories of objects and users, in support of object- and self-memory, observation, communication, and behavior modeling. […] User Lifelogs, (“life-caching,” “documented lives,” etc.) allow people to make similar recordings of their own lives.”

Wearables and the Quantified Self movement are recent examples of how early lifelogging technologies are already having an impact on society. Never before has it been so easy to track and quantify our activities, set goals, and form new habits, because never before have we had access to such capable wearable devices, connected sensors, and powerful apps like Lift. If you want to know exactly how out of shape you are, you should go to a doctor, but in addition you can also compile a much more detailed picture by making use of today’s lifelogging technologies.

The Lift app has already worked for me when it comes to forming habits and reaching milestones and goals. I floss every day now and I read and write nearly every day. I have accomplished more in the past year than I ever thought possible, thanks to Lift.
When it comes to my weight and overall health I have been less successful. Over a short amount of time I have returned to, and then surpassed, my previous highest weight. This has been a frightening experience. In just over a year I have gained 40 pounds. A combination of being 40 years old, returning to school, eating poorly, and giving up exercise due to plantar fasciitis resulted in me gaining 15 of those pounds in just the past four months. None of my clothes fit comfortably anymore. My legs hurt by the time I reach my office after the 12-minute walk from where I park my car. The strength I gained from CrossFit last summer and the aerobic endurance I earned from many miles of jogging nearly every day a year ago have fled me.

The Quantified Diet offers me the possibility of improving my health and losing weight, among other personal accomplishments, while also letting me contribute to a larger project that might very well lead to a better understanding of diets in general and their effectiveness. The four-week period of this effort, the daily steps requiring a daily check off, the occasional surveys, and the conversation through Lift’s discussion and notes features as well as journal posts like this one, offer all of us participating an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. Whether or not we succeed individually, by the end of this month we will have learned something useful, and can expect additional lessons learned when our data are compiled and analyzed. I think it is important to have personal goals, and the way this project is organized appears to maximize reaching them, but I also think it is important to look at this effort as a kind of global calibration, a baseline when it comes to diets that can be build on after this initial effort it over.

Meanwhile, by participating I am taking an active step toward improving my chances of living and thriving to at least 70. Within that short thirty years the predictions above will be put to the test. The time span serves as a reasonably short time limit to this futurism silliness, if it is silly. And if it is not? I’d rather be fit and healthy when the human era comes to an end, whatever that turns out to mean, than not.