Is an extended life worth more than what many people would consider a more expansive one?

Andreas Ortmann
3 min readFeb 17, 2024

It’s a question that the author of a recent story in the Sydney Morning Herald asked the woman labelled “Blueprint XX”, a 27 year old woman from Queensland, Australia, called Kate Tolo. Tolo ventured out into the world to become a fashion designer and — for now — has ended up as the chief marketing officer for Bryan Johnson, a 46 year old serial tech entrepreneur and multimillionaire reported to be worth in excess of 400 million US dollars. Johnson has lived for years a strictly “Blueprint” regimented life in order to slow down, and possibly reverse, aging.

Johnson’s quest, and the way he goes about it, remind me of Seth Roberts (1953–2014) who was a Professor of Psychology at Tsinghua University in Beijing and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. Seth was known for his self-experimentation approach to science (see his “Self-experimentation as a source for new ideas: Ten examples about sleep, mood, health, and weight”). He was also the author of bestselling book The Shangri-La Diet. He died, fairly young, when he collapsed near his home in California. Wikipedia reports that occlusive coronary artery disease and cardiomegaly contributed to his death. Other rumors around the time of his death suggested that he mis-calibrated an important ingredient of his diet (Omega-3 fatty acids).

Like Seth Roberts, you gotta give Johnson (and Tolo) credit for experimenting on himself (herself) but I have to wonder what life is left if you submit yourself to an algorithm-driven way of life that seems to take away a lot of the fun, nevermind your agency, and makes for a very meager diet indeed. “The Green Giant drink” anyone? (No? Thought so.)

And, of course, that strictly “Blueprint” regimented life does not— like The Shangri-La Diet —immunize you against the vicissitudes of modern life.

This tweet is not (any longer?) on Johnson’s X page (a rather weird page incidentally); I picked it up in this article commenting on it but, whether true or not, the tweet illustrates that life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. Like not to die.

Of course there is nothing wrong with having a decent diet and exercising.

But it is one thing to live your life healthily and another thing altogether to live a life that hardly deserves that label.

Also, in the aggregate, where would all these quasi-zombies vegetate?

Just wondering …

Hand over the sashimi and vino, dear!

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Andreas Ortmann

EconProf: I post occasionally on whatever tickles my fancy: Science, evidence production, the Econ tribe, Oz politics, etc. Y’all r entitled to my opinions …