We don’t know what’s going on inside our bodies. We don’t know what’s going on subcutaneously, under the skin. We know what’s going on in Bangalore or Budapest, but not in our bodies. We have information from the other side of the world, but not something a few inches away. This lack of knowledge is actually an astounding blank spot on the map.

Back in the 1990s, we had the concept of getting lost. You don’t get lost anymore. With GPS, you always know your location. In the future, you will always know your internal state.

Studying the different cultures of healthcare versus fitness is instructive. They are almost opposites in terms of individual versus institutional responsibility.

We view healthcare as an institutional responsibility, yet a doctor is with you for only thirty minutes, and you are with your body all of the time. If you bring a doctor data from the internet, you are either right (and undermining them) or wrong (and ignorant). Either way, self-care is disincentivized. Yet, even very competent doctors can’t substitute for self-care.

This is interesting, because we accept we are personally responsible for our fitness. A personal trainer is viewed as a helper at most.

We may find self-care based on self-measurement, personal genomics, and fitness is the actual wonder drug. Fitness is a good entry point for self-care, with a long-term option to combine your individual personal data with broad clinical data.

Self-measurement isn’t “n=1” science (small sample size); it is “t=infinity” science (long timeframe). This yields unprecedented personal health data. Smart food companies will use this data to deliver data-driven personalised nutrition.

Your body, your choice. If you can legally skydive or bungee jump, if you can serve in the military and risk life and limb, you should be able to take arbitrary risks with your own health. That means we need expanded rights to try medicines and treatments and new pathways outside the FDA, at home and abroad. Certainly experimenting medically is more socially beneficial than bungee jumping or skydiving, which is risk without reward.

When you eat something, it is literally incorporated into your body. If society were smarter about this, you might be able to track it. When you eat a piece of chicken or lettuce, where are those lipids, those carbohydrates, those proteins incorporated exactly? Do they go to your eyes? Are they all diffused? Do they gravitate toward particular places?

You are made of what you eat. Your body is being reconstructed by these foods. Interesting studies are trying to track where various foods end up deposited. This intersects with genetics and what we know about biochemistry and metabolism in the fields of pharmacogenomics and nutrigenomics, which is the response of your body to what you consume. For example, you individually might be a fast or slow metaboliser of caffeine or alcohol.

Future historians may note this was the era of sugar, caffeine, opioids, and social media, just like previous eras were in part driven by nicotine and alcohol. Maybe there’s always a dominant drug of the age, even if we don’t see it.

Over the last fifty to sixty years, restaurant culture has become more and more mainstream. We’ve gone from having family-cooked meals, where the people who were our food providers were also our healthcare providers, to outsourcing all nutrition to capitalist entities who are not aligned with us.

That’s why we have sugary, unhealthy foods. They are engineered to be delicious to get you to eat more and buy huge portion sizes. Then you suffer later with diabetes or metabolic disorders. Look up the obesity epidemic. It’s frightening because it actually looks like a true epidemic.

A failing restaurant will start throwing sugar and other additives into its food because people respond to those things. But it’s a short-term, unbalanced optimisation.

It’s like when Coca-Cola put cocaine in the cola. Today, we say, “Wow, that’s so bad.” But when, in recent years, people added fruit syrup to yogurt, we say, “Wow, now it’s selling!” In the future, when everybody has continuous glucose monitors, we will actually see the blood sugar spikes we’ve been experiencing.

Then, we will see this time period (when people had sugar for breakfast and sugar for lunch, when kids were eating sugar for a snack, and when sugar was in everything) as similar to the time when drugs were laced into consumer products.

The overabundance of sugar is why people are so fat now. It’s why diabetes is such an epidemic. Sugar starts messing up your gut microbiome and causes other issues. It’s very difficult to escape, like secondhand smoke. It’s in almost everything. You have to really try to not eat sugar.

It’s funny to notice the most nutritious foods lettuce, tomatoes, fruits, etc. don’t have nutrition facts on them. That’s because a little bit of a chemistry experiment has to occur to require complex nutrition facts.

Think about those “I took a picture of myself every day for three years” videos. Could a simple video selfie be a diagnostic tool for health tracking? The key is determining how many health signals you can estimate from a high-definition video of your face taken every day: heart rate, jaundice, BMI, and probably many more.

We can call this device a “magic mirror.” Look at it in the morning, and it says, “You look sick” and tells you why. Correlating the magic mirror video with other self-measurement data (like nutrition and fitness trackers) could give persuasive demos: “If you do this, you will look like this.”

Essentially, a magic mirror could make personalised “before/ after” examples to visually demonstrate the effects of fitness and diet changes on your health and appearance.

Excerpted with permission from The Anthology of Balaji: A Guide to Technology, Truth, and Building the Future, Eric Jorgenson, HarperCollins India.