Google is on the quest for the Holy Grail. Who wants to live forever?
Google announced recently that they are launching a new venture designed to face the heady challenge of age itself. The new business, named Calico, will be headed up by Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and current Chairman of Apple.
Here’s the full press release:
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – September 18, 2013 – Google today announced Calico, a new company that will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases. Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer and a founding investor.
Announcing this new investment, Larry Page, Google CEO said: “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives. It’s impossible to imagine anyone better than Art—one of the leading scientists, entrepreneurs and CEOs of our generation—to take this new venture forward.” Art said: “I’ve devoted much of my life to science and technology, with the goal of improving human health. Larry’s focus on outsized improvements has inspired me, and I’m tremendously excited about what’s next.”
Art Levinson will remain Chairman of Genentech and a director of Hoffmann-La Roche, as well as Chairman of Apple.
Commenting on Art’s new role, Franz Humer, Chairman of Hoffmann-La Roche, said: “Art’s track record at Genentech has been exemplary, and we see an interesting potential for our companies to work together going forward. We’re delighted he’ll stay on our board.”
Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple, said: “For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. 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.”
Not much as been revealed about how they intend to get their results, but the internet is already abuzz about the possibilities. Even Time Magazine suggests that Google’s goal is conquering death itself. However, Time is just as in the dark as we are about the future of Calico. In their article, Time states, “Google is keeping its exact plans close to the vest. But it is likely to use its data-processing might to shed new light on age-related maladies. Sources close to the project suggest Calico will start with a small number of employees and focus initially on researching new technology.”
Vague though it is, the concept is exciting, if not a little scary. If we’re able to live forever, doesn’t that mean we should also have an additional goal of overcoming the issue of overpopulation? Immortality brings up a whole set of concerns, though worrying about them this early on is probably a touch of putting the death cart ahead of the horse. Amusingly, the idea of a large company like Google having such a lofty goal has been compared to the Umbrella Corporation in the Resident Evil series. Google Zombies? Maybe, maybe not. But there is a G-Virus in that series.
Seriously, though: Google, without a doubt, has the resources to make big things happen. They’ve got the right man in charge, that’s for certain. Levinson has been working in biotech since 1980, far before it was the hottest buzzword on Wall Street. He has over 80 published scientific articles to his name, 11 patents, and a litany of awards and recognitions within the scientific community. Unsurprisingly, Art also has a history with Google: he was on their board of directors from 2004 through 2009. With his experience along with Google’s near-limitless funding pool, it will definitely be interesting to see what Calico comes up with to help us live longer, healthier lives. Perhaps we’ll end up with nine lives, just like the calico kitty in the header image at the top!
Just one question, though… Will immortality be ad supported?
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