Google's Next Search: The Fountain of Youth
Sep 19, 2013 6:00 AM PT
Google on Wednesday launched Calico, a company that will focus on health and well-being, with a particular emphasis on aging and associated diseases.
At the helm of this new endeavor will sit founding investor Arthur Levinson, chairman and former CEO of Genentech, chairman of Apple, director of Hoffmann-La Roche and now Calico's CEO.
"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."
Google did not respond to our request for further details.
Will It Succeed?
Calico may seem to be an outlier research endeavor for Google, but in fact its roots in analytics and data mining will serve it very well as it pursues the secret to aging, Maureen Rhemann, senior strategist for Trends Digest, told the E-Commerce Times.
"Google's investments in quantum computing -- such as its recent purchase of a US$15 million quantum computer from D-Wave Systems and its partnership with NASA -- place it in a strong position to advance research," Rhemann said. "Google has invested significantly in creating algorithms and tools for analysis of unstructured data and visualization, allowing it to find patterns that currently remain undetected and may lead to significant breakthroughs."
Indeed, more people than not seem to have faith that Google will -- if not crack the code to longevity, then at least advance our understanding of it considerably.
'It'll Make a Difference'
"Google's Calico is a brilliant, crucially important project that will no doubt bear some results," said Paul Levinson, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University. "Cracking the DNA code that makes us age is already under way, and Google's input will speed that along.
"Eventually, humans may be able to live forever -- and before that, a lot longer than today," Levinson told the E-Commerce Times. "The first results will likely be in the lifetimes of most people alive today."
Even if Google doesn't figure out what makes human beings age, grow weak and sick and eventually die, its research will surely lead to breakthroughs in related areas.
"Will this be enough to cure all diseases and make us live forever? Probably not," Guido Lang, assistant professor of computer information systems at Quinnipiac University, told the E-Commerce Times -- "but I'm sure it'll make a difference."
Dreaming the Impossible
Google's push down this road could also lead to unexpected and completely unrelated discoveries or developments, especially if other people get inspired by its bold vision and confidence.
"Google's key strength is its ability to tackle really large and complex problems," Lang noted. "Up until a few years ago, no one thought we would see an autonomous car on the streets anytime soon, and along came Google and made it happen."