Xconomist of the Week: Larry Smarr’s Quest for ‘Quantified Health’

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much easier for the average citizen to afford to track their key blood markers. It may well be that we see commercial startups arise that provide Internet consulting services on the type of questions you could ask your doctor given your blood screen results. Right now, many of my blood and stool tests are done through www.yourfuturehealth.com. I take my own stool samples and FedEx them in to a lab, then get the results over the Internet. The key is to track multiple markers and to combine the results in order to create a synthetic view of the functioning of your biochemical systems.

X: There is so much conflicting information online. How can ordinary people tell the difference between good healthcare advice and bad healthcare advice?

LS: This is certainly a real problem. However, like everything on the Web, branding is one of the solutions. When I want authoritative advice about medical issues I go to the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, or the National Institutes of Medicine web sites. That gives me enough general knowledge that I am prepared to meet with my doctors and ask intelligent questions.

X: We seem to be moving into an era in which connectivity is everywhere and computing power is infinite. These are the technologies that help to make the “quantified self” possible, right? But how infinite can these IT resources really be?

LS: Right now there are probably 10 million processors in the Internet “clouds” of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple. My guess is that this will grow at least 100-fold in the next decade. In comparison the fastest supercomputer in the world today has only about a half-million processors. Also there are vast amounts of storage space co-located with the computing.

X: Can you recommend any readings in this area?

The Program: The Brain-Smart Approach to the Healthiest You by Kelly Traver and Betty Kelly Sargent

Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

Superhealth by Steven Pratt, M.D.

The Anti-Aging Zone by Barry Sears

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