Google announces a new company, Calico, which will focus on health and aging, and will be run by Arthur Levinson, former CEO of biotech pioneer Genentech. "Medicine is well on its way to becoming an information science: doctors and researchers are now able to harvest and mine massive quantities of data from patients. And Google is very, very good with large data sets."
Larry Page, 40, is the co-founder and CEO of one of the most successful, ubiquitous and increasingly strange companies on the planet. Google is in the search of business and, more important for its profitability, it is in the online-advertising business. But it's also in the driverless-car business, the wearable-computing business, and the business of providing Internet access to remote areas via high-altitude balloons, among countless others.
Page prefers to refer to the search giant's more out-there ventures as moon shots. At the moment Google is preparing an especially uncertain and distant shot. It is planning to launch Calico, a new company that will focus on health and aging in particular. "In some industries," says Page, "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." The unavoidable question is why a company built on finding information and serving ads next to it, is spending untold amounts on a project that flies in the face of the basic fact of the human condition, the existential certainty of aging and death?