The Long Game 104: Continuous Monitoring, Younger & Wiser, Longevity, Blessings & Curses, Genius
🧲 What Are the Traits of Attractive Nomads?, Startups & Uncertainty, Corruption in China, Gas, Cleanshot, and Much More!
Hi there, it’s Mehdi Yacoubi, co-founder at Vital, and this is The Long Game Newsletter. To receive it in your inbox each week, subscribe here:
In this episode, we explore:
Continuous monitoring of health metrics
Younger physically, wiser mentally
A blessing and a curse
Startups & uncertainty
Traits of attractive nomads
Let’s dive in!
🔂 Continuous Monitoring
I came across this recent paper about a new wearable device to continuously monitor lactate, glucose, and alcohol.
Implementations of wearable microneedle-based arrays of sensors for the monitoring of multiple biomarkers in interstitial fluid have lacked system integration and evidence of robust analytical performance.
Here we report the development and testing of a fully integrated wearable array of microneedles for the wireless and continuous real-time sensing of two metabolites (lactate and glucose, or alcohol and glucose) in the interstitial fluid of volunteers performing common daily activities.
The device works with a custom smartphone app for data capture and visualization, comprises reusable electronics and a disposable microneedle array, and is optimized for system integration, cost-effective fabrication via advanced micromachining, easier assembly, biocompatibility, pain-free skin penetration and enhanced sensitivity. Single-analyte and dual-analyte measurements correlated well with the corresponding gold-standard measurements in blood or breath.
Further validation of the technology in large populations with concurrent validation of sensor readouts through centralized laboratory tests should determine the robustness and utility of real-time simultaneous monitoring of several biomarkers in interstitial fluid.
This shows that it’s only the beginning of continuous monitoring of health metrics. We can expect to continuously monitor a growing number of metrics in the near future.
The answers gathered by Sian Allen:
I believe the proliferation of new health trackers and the wish of a growing part of the population to optimize their health and feel like athletes (aka the high-performance lifestyle) will be the defining trends of the 2020s in consumer health.
Pair with: Life in 2030
Like most of us, Katie has a morning routine to get ready for the day. It typically starts with a piece of technology—the toilet. Now, it may not look like it’s changed much, but in 2030—like most other things in our house—it will have become a smart toilet. That means it measures 10 properties of your urine, including glucose, and it looks for health problems before they present themselves. After Katie is done, she’s training for the marathon, so she’s ready for her run. Sorry, even in the 2030s there is no train-for-a-marathon pill that you can buy, so she has to log her miles. She slips on her exercise gear, including a shirt is made out of spider silk, engineered by DNA. It’s got sensors sewn into it that pick up health stats like temperature, EKG, and heart rate. It also has actuators, so it can bump her on the wrists to give her directional cues: turn left, turn right, slow down.
Bonus (weekly dose of good news!): Stress Does Turn Hair Gray (And It’s Reversible)
⏪⏩ Younger Physically, Wiser Mentally
I thought this was an excellent and concise way to describe the optimal way to grow older:
Usually, the opposite happens. People get physically older, are also more attached to their beliefs, and are harder to challenge in the world of ideas.
I’ve shared many resources to address the physical part, but I think the mental side is the most underrated. Is it bound to happen that as we grow older, we get stuck in a worldview and unable to update our software as more information comes in?
I don’t think so, but the idea that beliefs are like possessions is crucial for understanding why this happens.
Often people’s beliefs are held tenaciously. And seem impervious to open discussion.
People get utility from their beliefs simply because they are their beliefs.
The way we treat beliefs can be generalized to the way we treat objects.
I’m not sure if knowing this is nearly as helpful as it seems, but I don’t have any other ideas on how to solve this increasing rigidity with age! Having a notebook to take notes of all the things you changed your mind on can also help. If there’s nothing meaningful to write on it, it might be time to revisit some of your beliefs.
Strong opinions, loosely held.
🧠 Better Thinking
📉 Passing Down Extreme Wealth to Future Generations is a Curse
I’ve been thinking about an idea for a while. Although commonly believed to be a considerable advantage, being born to extreme wealth comes with a massive disadvantage because struggle is what builds grit, and without grit no outsized success is possible.
Morgan Housel explains this idea well:
“I think it’s an initiative sucker. I think it’s a curse. From the time I was growing up, if I felt like there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don’t know if I would have been so motivated.” It’s like he was the first Vanderbilt to be set free.
Some amount of resources will definitely be helpful to get started, but more resources often come with their attached negative part that undermines the mindset needed to stay in the game for long enough.
The bottom line is: as paradoxically as it seems, being too blessed is a curse. A good way to deal with this is to understand this idea and continuously create new types of discomfort (physical or mental) to prevent yourself from falling into this trap.
Pair with: Shaquille O’Neal wants his kids to earn their way: ‘We ain’t rich, I’m rich.’
⚡️ Startup Stuff
🌦 Thoughts & Quotes About Startups & Uncertainty
It’s the right macro period to talk about startups & uncertainly:
First, let’s start with this quote from Steve Jobs:
“A lot of times you don’t know what your competitive advantage is when you launch a new product.”
This article from Jerry Neumann perfectly complements this idea:
Uncertainty can be seen everywhere in the startup process: in the people, in the technology, in the product, and in the market. This analysis shows something more interesting though: uncertainty is not just a nuisance startup founders can’t avoid, it is an integral part of what allows startups to be successful. Startups that aim to create value can’t have a moat when they begin, uncertainty is what protects them from competition until a proper moat can be built. Uncertainty becomes their moat.
Play long enough and you might get lucky. In the technology game, tomorrow looks nothing like today. If you survive long enough to see tomorrow, it may bring you the answer that seems so impossible today. — Ben Horowitz
📚 What I Read
🔫 Intelligence Killed Genius
Where did all geniuses go?
They were killed by the the concept of intelligence.
it’s the EMH-level mindvirus except even worse
The first requirement to do genius-level work is to not be afraid to do things only geniuses can do, i.e. to have the internal feeling of being better than everyone else in the world.
The concept of intelligence kills this feeling. However smart you are, there is someone who is smarter than you. And if there’s someone smarter than you are, it doesn’t make sense to work on the hardest possible problems and to try to change the world - it’s the smartest person’s job.
You don’t need need to be the smartest person in the world.
I know a few people who I believe to be geniuses. What happens when I tell them that I believe they’re a genius? They all tell me that there are people smarter than them and that they’re “only pretty good at one or two things”
bitch this is exactly what genius is.
🧬♾ On Longevity
For someone who knows nothing, by someone who knows nothing:
I used to think longevity research was interesting but somewhat of an esoteric hobby, mostly limited to friends also interested in things like “rationality” and “effective altruism”. While it’d make more sense over time, I didn’t fully appreciate the broader importance until I came across this analogy (which is undoubtedly simple but still interesting…): Think of the body as a car. If you don't service a car, it accumulates damage over time. Eventually, that damage becomes so pervasive that the car will break down. The human body, though much more complicated, is analogous to a car in the sense that we're made up of trillions of cells. Just by being alive, through the wear and tear of everyday life, we accumulate damage, and that damage ultimately kills us. This process is the process we call aging.
⚖️ The One Parenting Decision That Really Matters
It’s been a while since we didn’t talk nature vs. nurture on The Long Game. Well, there you go. As always, people tend to think that parenting practice influence a lot the outcome of their kid, which is proven time & time again to be false.
This piece shows that one of the few things that matters is where the family lives.
The results showed that some large metropolitan areas give kids an edge. They get a better education. They earn more money: The best cities can increase a child’s future income by about 12 percent. They found that the five best metropolitan areas are: Seattle; Minneapolis; Salt Lake City; Reading, Pennsylvania; and Madison, Wisconsin.
However, parents don’t merely pick a metropolitan area to live in. They have to pick neighborhoods within these areas, so Chetty and co. drilled down, determining that some were much more advantageous than others. They created a website, The Opportunity Atlas, that allows anyone to find out how beneficial any neighborhood is expected to be for kids of different income levels, genders, and races.
🍭 Brain Food
🧲 What Are the Traits of Attractive Nomads?
Nomadlist came up with an interesting poll to determine the traits of the most attractive nomads.
In case you’re interested, here are the results:
👨 Wanna be an attractive guy? Get a beard, lift weights, play frisbee, and hit the sauna.
👩 Wanna be an attractive woman? Lift weights, smoke socially (?), listen to house music, buy an iPhone, and drive a motorcycle.
Caveat: People rated as attractive are more likely to have selected these traits on their profile. These traits don't make you more attractive necessarily.
Another reason for you to start lifting 😉
Pair with: This warning for guys & Tinder
"the bottom 80% of men (in terms of attractiveness) are competing for the bottom 22% of women; the top 78% of women are competing for the top 20% of men... a man of average attractiveness can only expect to be liked by 0.87% of women"
🎥 What I’m Watching
⛽ Why Gas Got So Expensive (It’s Not the War)
🇨🇳 Why Corruption is China’s Secret Weapon
Understand how the Chinese system works.
Pair with this for a snapshot of the current Chinese lockdowns. It should make you happy not to be living there.
🔧 The Tool of the Week
If you’re taking a lot of screenshots for work, CleanShot will be very helpful. It helps you capture your Mac’s screen and works exactly how you need it to.
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.
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