Popular longevity personality “Agingdoc” revealed himself to be one Dr. David Barzilai after several years of pseudonymity. But, Barzilai explained, the move was not as simple as changing his profile picture.

Barzilai is the founder of Massachusetts-based Healthspan Coaching LLC, with degrees in cell and developmental biology, health, and society, and an MD-PhD in health services research. He is also a board-licensed dermatologist and a Diplomat of the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine.

In his work as the AgingDoc, Barzilai educated the public on healthy longevity, mind-body wellness, and nutrition.

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Going public

“When it comes to a decision, such as going public or not, the first question is, is it an option?” Barzilai told Decrypt. “I can't be anonymous and not anonymous at the same time. Are the benefits greater than the disadvantages or do the disadvantages not outweigh the benefits?”

Barzilai emphasized his appreciation for privacy and having diverse interests, with a significant amount of focus on health and longevity. He was still hesitant to reveal himself—but concluded that if he started coaching and consulting, people would eventually figure out it was him, anyway.

“I have unique ideas—a stoic part of me, a minimalist part of me, a transhumanist future part of me,” Barzilai said. “I have all these dimensions and this kind of zany quirkiness.”

He said he wondered if coming forward would allow him to help more people in his practice.

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“A lot of people think that longevity medicine is snake oil, and the other half think that longevity medicine is [the fountain of youth],” he said. Barzilai said one reason for this is the over-promising of results by some in the longevity industry.

“I think part of it is that it pays to over-promise,” he said. “People who set more realistic expectations tend to get less media attention.”

“The people who are incentivized to getting attention have a stronger interest and also have more financial resources to put into selling some supplements or something that may not be efficacious,” Barzilai said.

Living better, not just longer

Barzilai pointed out that while many people desire longer lives, they don't wish for extended old age, especially if it involves a diminished quality of life—being dependent on medical machines or facing severe physical limitations, for example. When some hear about research on extending lifespans, they often don’t understand that the goal is to extend healthy, active years.

“We want to have a good life,” Barzilai continued. “If we can live as long as we want, or as long as possible, and spend more time with family, that's wonderful. But we want to be healthy and feel great while we're around.”

He noted an increase in dementia amongst centenarians. According to a 2020 Journal of the American Medical Association report, Dementia increases exponentially with age, estimated at 40% per year in individuals over 100.

Democratizing longevity

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On the surface, longevity may appear to be the domain of the ultrarich and tech billionaires, but Barzilai says deep down, the elites are like everyone else in wanting to live a long, healthy life. Barzilai noted, however, that he is not content with only the wealthy having access to the tools necessary to live longer, healthier lives.

“I like organizations and people getting together to share what people can be doing at the individual and community levels,” he said. “I also like the concept of DAOs—I'm just so enamored with the idea. I'm not saying that they're not without challenges, but every new technology has challenges.”

A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is an organizational structure where control is spread out rather than hierarchical. DAOs are organized using smart contracts and governance tokens for members to cast votes on projects and the direction of the DAO.

“We are combining with these DAOs smart people, clever technology, new ideas, and concepts,” Barzilai said.

Artificial intelligence

Another technology that Barzilai said could revolutionize the quest for longer lives is AI.

“AI is going to revolutionize longevity medicine like it's going to revolutionize everything,” he said. “On a very concrete level, it is helping us make sense of an enormous amount of data that we can keep track of.”

The rapid advances in generative AI have revolutionized data analysis in science, aiding complex scientific research, accelerating drug and treatment discoveries in medicine, and enhancing understanding of complex for the average person.

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Much like the internet before it, Barzilai said AI—if used correctly—can empower humans to overcome injustice and work together.

“It's what we make of it,” he said. “AI: it's either going to kill us or save us.”

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