Google, the American company known for its popular search engine, is supporting a new venture that aims to significantly extend human life. The new company, Calico, will apply itself to the most tricky problems to face humanity, as ilness, aging and mortality.
Boldly going where many have gone before, and failed, Google is attempting to cheat death. Calico, so far has just one employee, Arthur Levinson. But, Mr. Levinson is not a typical "employee." He also happens to be a founding investor in Calico, chairman of Genentech as well as of Apple Computer, and a director of Hoffmann-LaRoche (which owns a great deal of Genentech). The amount of Levinson's investment--and any other investment for that matter--has not been disclosed.
Calico, supposedly a shortened version of "California Life Company", will tackle several big questions, including: Is there an absolute upper age limit? Which is more important, extending lifespans or improving quality of life for older people? Are there other, more effective areas in which to apply our resources?
Although Calico does not yet have a website and few details of the company's aims have emerged, it does appear that the venture will fund basic research in issues related to aging, and will have its own research labs. Calico is what Silicon Valley locals often call a "moon-shot" program, something so far-fetched that its value may lie more in the ideas it sparks, rather than tangible research results (at least for now).
One certain strength of Calico is being backed by Google, which will allow the new company to make the best use of all the "big data" available today. Google practically invented "cloud" computing, using its proprietary search algorithms to allow thorough internet searches anywhere on the planet. But the company also has been at the forefront of finding ways to manage that enormous amount of information in ways that are consumer-friendly. At the same time, medical research has produced enormous amounts of genetic data about the human and other genomes that needs to be sifted through and analyzed. From that data can come a better understanding of how cells, molecules and bodies work. And what better place to get that understanding than from the people who already know almost everything about everyone in the planet?