Synthetic biology and the brain: Bryan Johnson and Ed Boyden on The Neobiological Revolution

Originally published on November 13th for

The second day of SynBioBeta 2018 started off in a big way, with NEO.LIFE founder Jane Metcalfe moderating the keynote fireside chat “Neuroscience and synthetic biology: The neobiological revolution.” Metcalfe was joined by OS Fund co-founder Bryan Johnson and MIT Media Lab’s Ed Boyden for an incredibly interesting conversation about the future of neuroscience.

Johnson, the entrepreneur and investor, had big ideas and bold, disruptive plans for the future of humanity. Boyden, the academic, approached each of Metcalfe’s questions more carefully, describing incremental movements toward innovation. But it was clear that both were focused on a single idea — a neobiological revolution.

The problem: underfunded science

Johnson suggested that in fifteen years, technology that interfaces with our brains will be as common as smartphones.

“We have an Apple Watch that tracks heartbeat or a Fitbit that tracks our steps or sleep patterns, but we currently don’t have any tools that enable us to know what is going on in our minds,” Johnson said. “My objective is to enable the tools that allow us to peer into our minds and see the inner workings. If we have that data available to us, an entire ecosystem can emerge, and we can start nudging our cognition.”

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