Biohacking: using science, technology, and self-experimentation to optimize (“hack”) one’s own biology, mind, and life.

Out of recent, rapid advances in accessible science and technology has emerged a new concept and practice called “biohacking.” But what is biohacking, exactly?

History of Biohacking

The term “biohacking” has been applied to several concepts over the past 30+ years:

What is Biohacking? DIY Biology

Biohacking (DIY Biology)

The earliest use of the term biohacking comes from the field of do-it-yourself biology (“Playing God in Your Basement”, Washington Post, January 31, 1988)

DIY biology involves using tools of molecular biology and genetic engineering to genetically modify a bacteria, yeast, plant or animal cell or organism. In the fast few years, new techniques such as CRISPR have made DIY Biology accessible to nearly anyone. So now, you can make your own glowing beer from the comfort of your own home!

What is Biohacking? Augmentation.

Biohacking (Human Augmentation)

Another type of biohacking, also known as body hacking or “grinding”, involves human augmentation by attaching or implanting objects into the body to enhance or gain new abilities or senses.
These objects range from small electronics placed under the skin for aesthetic purposes, to implanting small magnets in fingers or RFID chips in hands to gain new abilities like magnetic touch, ability to unlock doors, or feel a buzz whenever facing true north.

What is Biohacking? Wellness and Personal Optimization.

Biohacking (Wellness and Personal Optimization)

But over the past few years another type of biohacking has emerged that has rapidly gained more widespread, mainstream adoption, in the area of wellness and personal optimization, which again can be defined as:

Biohacking: using science, technology, and self-experimentation to optimize (“hack”) one’s own biology, mind, and life.*

You can think of biohacking as taking a systems approach to wellness, since each component is interconnected and tweaking any one variable will in turn affect the others.

(* others in the biohacking community have tweaked this language to some degree but everyone is basically making the same point 👍)

Biohacking vs. Quantified Self

Biohacking vs. Quantified Self – Similar, but Different

Many people associate self quantification and biohacking as being the same thing, but they are wrong. While there is some overlap, they are different in several ways. For example, someone into biohacking might be less concerned about digging into data or isolating which of the 50 “hacks” they are doing gets the result they want, as long as it’s working.

And Quantified Self isn’t only about optimizing one’s biology – it touches all areas of life, from finance to habits to relationships.

But at the end of the day, it’s all about us being single subject experiments and identifying what works best for each of us to get us all to an optimal state we seek.

As for me, I would put myself right in the middle between biohacking and self-quantification.

Learn More About Biohacking:

The Best Biohacking Books

  • Body: diet, fasting, lab testing, exercise, sleep, etc.
  • Environment: air quality, water quality, radiation (EMF), detox, etc.
  • Mind: memory, cognition, nootropics, etc.
  • Lifestyle: stress, travel, personality, relationships, etc.
  • Tech/Tools: wearables, biohacking tools, apps, measurement devices, etc.
  • Data: data visualizations, exploring personal data, etc.

About Bob

Bob Troia is a technology entrepreneur and citizen scientist who is focused on the intersection of data-driven citizen science, health and wellness, human performance, longevity, and self-optimization. He has been featured on CBS News Sunday Morning, PBS NewsHour Weekend, National Geographic Explorer, CBC (Canada), SBS-TV (South Korea), Fast Company, Men's Fitness, Outside Magazine, and on many leading health and wellness podcasts.