Google Tackles the Mystery of Aging

by Matt Klassen on September 20, 2013

Can Google Solve Death? While such a task may seem outside the purview of a search engine, technology, and mobile giant, Google announced earlier this week that it has formed a subsidiary research and development company, Calico, whose primary task is to tackle issues relating to health and well-being, with a particular emphasis placed on aging and age-related diseases.

Although Calico may seem like a tertiary project for the tech giant, it may not be as far afield as many might initially think, as the company’s “roots in analytics and data mining will serve it well as it pursues the secret to aging.” Further, there are few company’s equipped with the technology necessary to approach such a monumental problem, and with Google recently investing in a state-of-the-art quantum computer, it may actually be the only computer that has the resources and motivation to crack the aging puzzle.

But am I the only one growing increasingly uncomfortable with Google’s ever-extending reach? It seems with every successive pie Google gets its fingers into, with every new paradigm shifting, world-changing project Google tackles; I find myself having visions of a dark dystopian future; one where the company that told itself “Don’t Be Evil” controls the world from its benevolent seat on high.

“Illness and aging affect all our families,” said Google CEO Larry Page. “With some longer-term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.” While such an endeavor, tackling the mystery of aging, is indeed a ‘moonshot,’ who would have believed we would see robotic cars driving the streets or glasses that give us all the information we might want with the blink of an eye (and a wild gesture into the air)? Meaning, if there was company that might be able to crack the aging code; my money would be firmly on Google.

Further, my dark dystopian visions aside, I will admit that I appreciate the company’s willingness to dedicate its vast empire towards thinking outside the box, pushing the envelope of humanity’s thinking and even applying its huge network of resources towards more altruistic goals.

Google’s new health and wellness company will be headed by founding investor Arthur Levinson, chairman and former CEO of Genentech, chairman of Apple, and director of Hoffmann-La Roche, and he is tasked with no small project, assisting in cracking the DNA code linked to aging.

“Eventually, humans may be able to live forever — and before that, a lot longer than today,” Paul Levinson (unrelated), professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University explains. “The first results will likely be in the lifetimes of most people alive today.”

Further, even if Google’s research doesn’t create a new breed of immortal humans, there’s no question its investment in the field will lead to revolutionary new breakthroughs in related fields. “Google’s key strength is its ability to tackle really large and complex problems,” Guido Lang, assistant professor of computer information systems at Quinnipiac University noted, and it’s this ability that could change human existence forever.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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