Google’s Larry Page (Image credit: niallkennedy/Flickr)
Google has launched a new company called Calico reportedly aimed at radically extending the human lifespan and solving aging-related diseases, a further move by the company into realms unrelated to Internet technology.
It is also a sign that the company has similar goals to those of Ray Kurzweil, their director of engineering, who recently claimed that people will upload their entire brain to in the near future. Hopefully they don’t share the more disturbing aspects of Kurzweil’s vision.
Google CEO Larry Page told Time that he thinks biomedical researchers have not focused on the right problems and that healthcare companies are not thinking enough about the long term.
“In some industries it takes 10 or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Health care is certainly one of those areas,” Page said to Time. “We should shoot for the things that are really, really important, so 10 or 20 years from now we have those things done.”
Calico is initially being funded by Google and Arthur Levinson. Levinson is Apple’s chairman of the board and also chairman of the board for Genentech, a pioneering biotech company.
Levinson will act as the CEO of Calico, according to The New York Times.
“This was just so out of the box that I instantly got extremely excited about it,” Levinson said to the Times.
Calico, which stands for California Life Company, will be “more of an institute certainly than a pharmaceutical company” at first, focusing on breaking down the biological mechanisms behind aging, according to Levinson.
The early research might mostly be done by outside academic scientists funded by the company, according to Levinson, but they also might hire their own researchers.
“OK … so you’re probably thinking wow! That’s a lot different from what Google does today. And you’re right. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives,” Page said in a Google+ post. “So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses.”
“These issues affect us all—from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families,” Page continued. “And while this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales with the right goals and the right people.”
Even Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, seems to support the project.
“For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking,” Cook said, according to a Google press release. “Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn’t have to be this way. There is no one better suited to lead this mission and I am excited to see the results.”
MIT Technology Review points out that this new project is just one of many ways that the ultra-rich of the tech world are attempting to fight aging.
“Billionaire Larry Ellison funds anti-aging research at a foundation he set up,” Antonio Regalado wrote for Technology Review. “And there’s been talk in Silicon Valley X Prize for how to freeze human remains so they can be revived in the future.”
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