Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page speaks during a news conference at the Google offices on May 21, 2012, in New York City.
If there’s one thing we know about Google, it’s that the company likes taking on big challenges: self-driving cars to reduce traffic accidents, Wi-Fi-equipped weather balloons to bring Internet access to the third world. So … how about ending death?
Wednesday Google CEO Larry Page announced the formation of Calico — a health and well-being company whose ultimate goal is overcoming human aging and mortality. (Via Blogspot)
Page wrote: “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.” (Via YouTube / GoogleDevelopers)
Calico is a Silicon Valley-wide venture. Page is putting Art Levinson, chairman of the board for both Apple and biotech company Genentech, in charge of the new company.
Page hasn’t revealed much about how Calico will go about curing old age and death, but what is known is that Calico will deal with data analysis and going by the numbers to decide which research to pursue.
Page gave Time an example of what the company has found so far: “One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you’d add about three years to people’s average life expectancy. … In the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think.”
It’s worth pointing out defeating old age isn’t exactly a new concept — one of the oldest works of literature in the world, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” deals with the search for immortality. But lately the quest has started to look less like fantasy and more like science.
Studies on life span, genetics and gene therapy are getting more and more traction, and funding is increasing, too. As a writer for Ars Technica puts it: (Via LiveScience, Science Daily)
“There are a lot of very rich people out there that are getting older. ... ‘Stopping death’ is getting more and more money thrown at it.”
Author Aubrey de Grey is one of those pushing researchers to view aging as a curable disease. He welcomed Calico, saying Google’s venture might signal “the end of the beginning” in longevity research. (Via TED)
Another futurist, Ray Kurzweil, argues humans will gain immortality by merging mind and machine. Google hired him earlier this year to work on artificial intelligence. (Via Big Think)
So while it might be a long shot, Google has as good a chance as anyone of pulling it off.
We’ll second Gizmodo, who says: “Here's to hoping we get to see some results in a short decade or two. You know, before it’s too late for us.”