Google is known for its search engine, online advertising, YouTube, Google Maps, and for developing self-driving cars, among many other things. Now the technology giant is trying to break into possibly the most important technological and scientific development ever — a cure for aging.
Google's new project, called Calico, is pursuing an objective of understanding and controlling human aging.
Here are five fast facts you need to know about Calico.
1. Calico Will Focus on Health and Aging
Calico, Google's new mysterious project announced today, will attempt to manipulate human aging and deter illness. Sources close to the project told Time magazine that the company will start small and focus entirely on researching new technologies.
"Illness and aging affect all our families," Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement. "With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives."
Page is looking to re-evaluate traditional thinking when it comes to healthcare. In other words, Google is looking to make a serious attempt to extend the human lifespan.
2. Calico Will Be Run By Apple's Arthur Levinson
Google CEO, Larry Page has decided to place Apple's Chairman Arthur Levinson as the head of the project. Levinson is the former CEO of Genentech, a biotech pioneer company. He will also be an investor into the company. Among Levinson's business resume, he also holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry. According to TIME, he plans to remain in his current roles as the chairman of the board of directors for both Genentech and Apple
"For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "[Artur] is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn't have to be this way."
3. Calico Will Focus on Long-Term Projects
Things like extending the human lifespan are not projects that will develop and sprout overnight. Google understands that these initiatives are long-term efforts. Page understands this, but also realizes the potential for inciting positive change for the greater good.
"In some industries, it takes 10 or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Health care is certainly one of those areas. We should shoot for the things that are really, really important, so 10 or 20 years from now we have those things done," said Page.
4. Google Has Invested in Similar Projects in the Past
This isn't the first time Google has taken a step to promote research in this field. The company invested in a company called 23andMe, a gene-sequencing company. The business has become popular for its relatively cheap DNA-testing services. For $99, 23andMe will send you a kit with detailed instructions on how to extract your DNA. When you send it back, the company will send you a report detailing your genetic background, reports on over 240 diseases, and even updates on your DNA as science advances.
5. Calico Is One of Google's 'Moon Shot' Initiatives
Most of these sky-high-thinking initiatives are thought up by Google's secretive research department, called Google X. The projects taken on by this arm of the technology giant are known as "moon shots," for their massive undertaking project. Run by Google CEO Larry Page and Astro "Captain of Moonshots" Teller, an entrepreneur and scientist with expertise in intelligent technology, the department requires three things to consider a project, said Teller to Time:
A significant problem for the world that needs solving, a potential solution, and the possibility of breakthrough technology making all the difference.
With Google’s stock hitting its all-time high at $928 a share in July, and a cool $54 billion cash sitting in the bank, the expense of these ventures is not much of a concern.
"If you make something a little bit better, people might pay you for it; they may not. But if you make the world a radically better place, the money is going to come find you, in a fair and elegant way," said Teller.