July 5, 2022

Google searches for life extension

If you have US$50 billion or so in cash lying around, you can afford to spend some of it on out-there projects. Which is what internet search behemoth Google is doing.

If you have US$50 billion or so in cash lying around, you can afford to spend some of it on out-there projects. Which is what internet search behemoth Google is doing.

It announced this week that it was launching a new project called Calico, which will investigate the possibility of life-extension. CEO Larry Page says, “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.”

Google’s interest in health is not new. In 2008 it introduced a medical records service, Google Health, but that sputtered out in 2011. Nothing daunted, it has invested in the gene-sequencing company 23andMe, which was co-founded by the wife of Google co-founder Sergei Brin, Anne Wojcicki. And earlier this year, Apple Chairman and former Genentech CEO Art Levinson and Brin joined Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and a Russian entrepreneur, Yuri Milner, in organizing the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, to “recognize excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life.” It is the largest science award in the world.

In an interview with Time magazine, Page gave some insight into his audacious project:

“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. We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that’ll totally change the world. But when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it’s very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think.”

“Page, in other words, is a man for whom solving–not curing–cancer may not be a big enough task,” Time comments.

Michael Cook
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ageing population
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life extension