The surprising overlap between crypto and bio

Or why I think there so many crypto people interested in biohacking and longevity

Hey all,

Today’s newsletter is a relatively short post from me today on the overlap between the crypto and bio communities. This topic came from a recent podcast I did where we discussed:

  • Why there are so many crypto people interested in bio

  • Health optimization

  • Kierkegaard

  • Prediction markets for research

  • Underrated books

Do give it a listen and check out the rest of The Long Game as well! As always let me know what you think of the podcast or this week’s newsletter. You can also connect with me on TwitterLinkedIn, join the Telegram chat room I run, or book a call with me on Superpeer.


Why are there so many crypto people interested in bio?

My friend Mehdi Yacoubi posed the question to me, with “bio” mostly meaning biohacking and longevity in the context it was used. After a bit of reflection I realized he was right and there were a surprising amount of crypto people also interested in biohacking or longevity. Given how fringe these communities are how can we explain that? I have a unique vantage point that spans across both communities, so I thought I’d write something quick on the subject.

I think the overlap boils down to two things: values and technology.

Values

Crypto and biohacking both focus on the individual and democratizing access to previously limited domains. Through these values we can see several ways these communities are aligned:

  • Crypto empowers individuals to control their own money.

  • Biohacking empowers individuals to control their own bodies.

  • Crypto rejects the notion that money must be made in a central bank.

  • Biohacking reject the notion that science must be done in large labs.

  • Crypto allows you to create your own currency in your basement.

  • Biohacking allows you to create your own organism in your basement.

  • Crypto gives anyone the ability to verify the (crypto) financial system.

  • Biohacking gives anyone the ability to verify scientific hypotheses.

Other shared values include an emphasis on open source and collaboration. Of course I am painting with a broad brush with two disparate and heterogeneous communities, but I would argue that these values are common enough to be helpful in explaining why so many crypto people are also interested in biohacking.

Longevity specifically is a little bit more difficult to pin down, but I think there are shared values here as well, particularly a focus on autonomy and the long term. Here’s how that is manifested:

  • Crypto empowers individuals to control their own money.

  • Longevity empowers individuals to control their own health.

  • Crypto focuses on long term value.

  • Longevity focuses on long term health.

Again: painting with a broad brush, but these values are common enough that I think they have some explanatory power. Bitcoiners in particular like to talk about having “low time preference,” which loosely means eschewing the short term for the long term. It makes sense that if you’re planning for the long term then you would want to extend how long your long term is!

Technology

Crypto is full of people who are really into technology. With this framing it is unsurprising that a bunch of technologists are interested in technology in other domains too. It is common to see crypto folks talk about a wide range of other fields, and it is fairly common for someone working in a different tech heavy field who also has an interest in crypto.

For crypto people I think it is likely the general interest in technology that leads people to biohacking and longevity, but it is the shared values that keeps people interested. That is why there are more crypto people interested in these biohacking and longevity as opposed to, say, aviation or ed tech. Those fields may see some passing interest from the crypto community, but don’t have as much staying power because they aren’t value aligned in the same way.

Lastly on this subject, if you deeply believe in the power of technology then I think you will naturally be drawn to longevity. Balaji Srinivasan’s essay “The Purpose of Technology” was about this theme. The thinking goes roughly like this:

  • If the proximate purpose of technology is about reducing scarcity

  • And our most scarce resource is our time

  • Then it follows that the ultimate purpose of technology is to extend our time indefinitely, or as Balaji puts it: to eliminate mortality.

Given the flurry of recent scientific evidence that it might be possible to extend healthy lifespans and reverse aging, it makes sense that a bunch of technologists (and others!) are excited about longevity.

Synthesis

A few entrepreneurs are trying to cross both worlds. Molecule is trying to enable crowdfunding for new therapeutics and is focusing on longevity right now. Research Collective is working on creating a “web of trust” for scientific claims. Here is my short list of where we might see other bio + crypto projects:

  • DAOs that invest in research

  • Biohacking projects that are working in “grey” areas using crypto for banking and financial services

  • Community owned and governed collectives

  • Hashing and putting on-chain data that is collected outside of formal clinical trials

  • Prediction markets for research

  • Numerai but for healthcare

Can you think of other use cases? Did I miss some other explanatory factor? If so email me or comment below.


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