Exclusive: TIME Talks to Google CEO Larry Page About Its New Venture to Extend Human Life

Bold project, to be led by biotech pioneer Arthur Levinson, will tackle's some of health care's biggest problems

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Anna Kuperberg / Google

Larry Page at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Can Google, the technology giant best known for search and free email, tackle aging?

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is planning to launch Calico, a new firm that will attempt to solve some of health care‘s most vexing problems. One of the independent venture’s major initiatives will be significantly expanding human lifespan. Arthur Levinson, the former chief of biotech pioneer Genentech, is an investor in Calico and will serve as its CEO.

The Sept. 30 issue of TIME profiles Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page as well as his decision to launch Calico.

Based in the Bay Area, not far from Google’s headquarters, Calico will be making longer-term bets than most health care firms. “In some industries, it takes ten or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Healthcare is certainly one of those ares,” said Page. “Maybe we should shoot for the things that are really, really important so ten or 20 years from now we have those things done.”

Google is announcing Calico in a Google+ post Wednesday. Details of the company’s funding and employee head count were not available as of press time.

Google is keeping its exact plans close to the vest. But it is likely to use its data-processing might to shed new light on age-related maladies. Sources close to the project suggest Calico will start with a small number of employees and focus initially on researching new technology.

That approach may yield unlikely conclusions. “Are people really focused on the right things? 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,” Page said. “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.”

Levinson, the firm’s leader, has had a storied career. A biochemist with a Ph.D. from Princeton, he rose through the ranks to become CEO of Genentech in 1995. Levinson, who was previously a director at Google, is currently the chairman of both Genentech and Apple‘s boards. He replaced the latter company’s co-founder Steve Jobs after his death in 2011. Levinson was not immediately available for comment.

Forming an entirely separate company as a way of expanding its ambitions is a new move for Google under Page. Far-out projects such as Google Glass, a pair of Internet-connect spectacles, and its self-driving car initiative are run out of Google X, the company’s secretive research arm headed by co-founder Sergey Brin. But Calico will be a separate entity.

“For me, it was always unsatisfying if you look at companies that get very big, and they’re just doing one thing,” Page said. “Ideally, if you have more people and more resources, you can do more things, get more things solved. We’ve kind of always had that philosophy.”

Calico is in line with Page’s oft-stated belief that the company should be aiming not just to make the world a little better, but a lot better. Page urges Google employees to engage in so-called 10x thinking—aspiring to create inventions which are better than anything that already exists by at least an order of magnitude.

38 comments
MikeMacdougall
MikeMacdougall

I WANT my Mortality for Christ sake and if you think you are taking THAT away i tell you now i will KILL myself before i let anyone take my mortality away from me

i want too know that my life is limited It makes life an Adventure it makes all the Goals WROTHWHILE Immortality is a curse

and i NEED my Humanity i NEED my Mortality Goddammit!

without it Life has no meaning it has no….Adventure

http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/02/ready-death.html

ŞhảdȳĒlgảṟhȳ
ŞhảdȳĒlgảṟhȳ

How do you develop a program if you did not build it? You be able not  to extend the life of human except by the creator of the human. how you can make this if you don't know the destiny of the human or what (Allah)  have wrote to him in his life.  if you can control in the life of the human then create a human like (Allah)> if you can   and i know you can not .  you do not have  the Soul .
In the name of Allah , most gracious , most merciful (They are asking thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little) true are the words of Allah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم  ‏{‏وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّن الْعِلْمِ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً، وَلَئِن شِئْنَا لَنَذْهَبَنَّ بِالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ ثُمَّ لاَ تَجِدُ لَكَ بِهِ عَلَيْنَا وَكِيلاً، إِلاَّ رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ إِنَّ فَضْلَهُ كَانَ عَلَيْكَ كَبِيرًا‏}‏ ‏[‏سورة الإسراء‏:‏ الآيات 85-87‏]‏‏؟‏ 

صدق الله العظيم 

AsitNSengupta
AsitNSengupta

Mr. Larry Page wants to extend life beyond a mere three years. People often mistake me for 10 to 15 years younger than my real age. I shall be happy to share the secrets with Larry if he thinks it is worth adding 10 to 15 years and most importantly promote the secrets and help search how to further the process. Secondly, I have written a book " Stranger in Shangri-La" through Amazon, which upholds Life itself as the secret of secrets in making ours a gentler world and extending life without using any pills and gimmicks.

Sincerely, A.N."Shen" Sengupta.

ValeryChuprin
ValeryChuprin

Just breathing and nutrition for the human body, this natural energy machine, is not enough to make it work without aging.    The body requires artificial stimulation of its life processes in order to stay young. This nobody does. Everyone is waiting for the elixir of youth to eat or drink. This is wrong way. Therefore the body is gradually destroyed (aging) and dies. But the right artificial stimulation allows bloodless, dull, wrinkled skin to become rosy, supple, wrinkle-free. So all the old body can become young again. Even if the body is 100 years old. Rejuvenation techniques have existed since ancient times.

ValeryChuprin
ValeryChuprin

Art Levinson:. What underlies aging?

V.C. - Wrinkled, flabby, bloodless skin. You cannot say that a person is 80 years of age, if he has a resilient, ruddy, full-blooded skin.

Art Levinson:. Might there be a direct link between certain diseases and the aging process?

V.C. - Yes, there is a direct link. A tumbledown skin performs its breathing, metabolic and other functions by 15-20%. The internal organs do not get enough oxygen, poisonous metabolic products, fall ill. It is necessary to restore the young functions and structure of the old skin. To do this artificially stimulate the mechanisms of skin regenerations. They restore skin’s programmed youthful structures and functions. Young skin means young body. Even if person is  80 years old.

jbbbb
jbbbb

It never ceases to amaze me how much money, time, and effort people will put into their preoccupation with extending their lifespan when they aren't really "living" the life they currently have.  Sometimes the question really comes down to quality of life vs. quantity of life.  But then, that requires some awareness of the innate fear of death and not succumbing to the automatic responses which ultimately sabotage our well-being in the meantime.

Instead of investing more money and creating more corporate organizations focusing on  "extending life" perhaps encouraging and supporting maximizing the incredible potential of the life and what we already "know" is key to that would be a more effective use of energy and monetary resources.  For example:

How about finding ways to encourage people to get more sleep (US citizens are chronically sleep deprived which lowers our quality of life and life expectancy).

How about finding ways to help people eat in a healthier way -- and sometimes eat less (since obesity, malnutrition, hunger, and other food-related issues are a major cause of limiting human lifespan), not to mention limiting our exposure to toxins in our food, air and water supplies.

How about finding ways to help people truly get the exercise that they need in their lives instead of sitting in chairs in front of computers or other digital tools.  

How about helping people reduce stress (which is one of the major contributors to all of our physical, emotional and interpersonal health problems that lower our quality of life and lifespan).  

How about helping people connect to meaning in their lives and create meaningful social relationships (both of which have been correlated to both increased quality of life and lifespan).

Ironically, we already are aware of some of the major limitations to our lifespan, we just want to find quick fixes instead of taking on the lifestyles that encourage them. An additional irony, being an employee at Google and other intense corporations may be a limiting factor for quality of life and lifespan, given how the work hours and other factors that keep people at work counter the above keys to maximizing quality of life and contributing to lifespan.  Being in a demanding corporate environment may be antithetical to a long lifespan: reducing sleep, reducing exercise, increasing poor eating habits, adding stress, making it harder to connect to meaning and nourish meaningful relationships!  Ultimately, I believe this is why so many corporate leaders focus on new ways to extend lifespan -- they don't want to accept that they are living in a manner that is counter to and contributing to the opposite!

CynthiaShenk
CynthiaShenk

So Larry dosn't think curing cancer is a big deal???  Really..he wouldn't say that if he were Steve Jobs one of the greatest minds of our time...and he wouldn't say that if he visited a children cancer hospital...and he wouldn't say that if he were fighting for his life with cancer...and he wouldn't say that if he had his quality of life slashed in half after cancer treatment....and he wouln't say that if someone he loved were dying of cancer.

Shame on him for thinking its no big deal.

maximru
maximru

Aging is a disease and a cause of the most of other age-related diseases which are the top cause of death worldwide. Slowing and stopping aging is a next big thing in business and science and it is wise to take part in this. Anti-aging scientific revolution is underway so it is time for business to step in. Lifespan of mice was extended 2,5 fold in lab (mPrize), nematodes  and yeast- 10-fold, mammals are rejuvenated in several different ways, dozens of non-aging animals including mammals are identified (negligible senescence) and few that are potentially immortal (Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish, Hydras and some others). Fact the the lifespan of the model animals was prolonged means that they did not die from age related diseases when they had to, which means control over cancer, CNS and other deadly diseases, each of which is a huge market. Aging is not easy to deal with , it will demand tremendous computational effort, elements of artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, all omics etc to win and some money. Google has many assets from the list so it again proved that it is most visionary company in the world and deserve those huge money it will earn in anti-aging. Though it is not alone, there are some other companies and initiatives taking part in this race to fight aging, so we will observe in few next years a tremendous competition or collaboration in this sphere.

coldshaker
coldshaker

I'd imagine this will become like umbrella corp in resident evil

MC
MC

A full head of gray at 40 and looking for the fountain of youth, go figure.

bsardi
bsardi

What Big Pharma could not do (or will not do), Google sets out to do.  There are a lot of obstacles intentionally being thrown in the way.  In the 1970s it became clear that genes could be altered (epigenetics) and gerontologists predicted 250-year life spans would become common.  The prospect of an anti-aging pill was in the air.  Then such talk suddenly vanished.  The life insurance actuaries were briefed on the possibility of an anti-aging pill and recognized no one would purchase their product if they were going to live that long.  Also there were unfounded concerns of over-population (human populations in western Europe, North America and Japan are now declining) and even Time magazine weighed in on the debate by saying something to the effect "we have birth control, but not age control."  With thinking like that, elitists scuttled the idea to the present day.  Then, about a decade ago, a Harvard professor, David Sinclair said an anti-aging pill was within reach and it might be modeled around a red wine molecule called resveratrol (rez-vair-ah-trol).  But Sinclair's developmental anti-aging pill company was purchased by GlaxoSmithKline who summarily ditched any further R&D on the red wine pill (including the possibility of making it a dietary supplement) and offered "new chemical entities" that Sinclair said were 1000-times more potent than resveratrol.  However, these patentable synthetic molecules have fizzled in subsequent tests.  Sinclair said this idea is feasible and within reach if a drug company has the resolve to make it a reality.  But Sinclair also said it would likely replace 20 classes of prescription drugs.  Can't have that!  So now Sinclair has changed his predictions and says such a pill is maybe 20 years away from becoming a reality.  Sinclair is right.  Longevity genes can be altered by diets (limited calories) and molecular mimics of calorie-restriction (anti-aging pills).  But how to proceed when it appears Big Pharma is standing in the way?

uneven
uneven

This appears to be a calculated move to counter the fact that Google threw us all under the bus with the NSA monitoring. Hope I'm wrong.

adsfund
adsfund

Ads Fund is a direct competitor to Google and its AdWords services, but it dedicates 50% of profits to fund work to allow the most people possible to live longer.

Since 2012, Ads Fund has gained users from over 20 different countries, and needs you help to promote it, and also opt-in to see the adverts.

TerranceSmith
TerranceSmith

 I just realized, after living in the same apartment for four years, that the rose bushes that reside just outside my bedroom window bloom twice a year. The first time around the beginning of June with many flowers and then they bloom again in September, but not so abundantly. I thought THAT, even at a somewhat advanced age, was pretty amazing until I realized it starts all over again next year. AND all that ivy if not attended to and trimmed back would surely cover everything. I wonder if plants get bored? Life, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant has a purpose, but intelligent life, if intelligent enough, gets to ask the questions. What is my purpose and worth in the grand scheme of things and how do I make it last?

 

MaitreyaOne
MaitreyaOne

Thank you Time magazine for reporting this news 

MaitreyaOne
MaitreyaOne

It would have been nice if they mentioned The Life Extension Foundation and its founders  Bill Faloon and Saul kent in the brief  video of the history of immortality.

MarkPlus
MarkPlus

I don't know about the "immortality" part, but some neuroscientists think we can push hard with current techniques to turn death from a permanent off-state into a temporary and reversible off-state through brain preservation. Look up the website of the Brain Preservation Foundation. Michael Shermer, the critic of pseudoscience and editor of "Skeptic" magazine, serves as one of this foundation's advisers, so apparently he considers its goals scientifically defensible.



MarkPlus
MarkPlus

I guess children who complain about boredom have already lived too long and should kill themselves. If suicide sounds like good advice to adults who feel bored from having "lived too long," at what age do you set the cutoff date?

govett
govett

From those of us nearer the end than to the beginning, thank you, Google.

gunduru
gunduru

First they should head to hibernation for humans. So they can wake us up, when it is ready :)

AdamJBraus
AdamJBraus

A bit pat to say that we have "always been seeking immortality." The NIH gives away $30.9 billion a year for cures for diseases, most of which happen right before people are going to die anyways. 


What a waste! 


If they gave the same amount to anti-aging sciences, most of those diseases would never even occur.

ForrestWalters
ForrestWalters

Learn all you can, and pull all the strings you can, to get in on the radical extension of healthy lifespan likely in the next few decades. See Aubrey de Grey's book Ending Aging. Log on to maxlife.org. Would you rather be one of the last to die early, or one of the first to live long?

If you get bored by long life - an often voiced concern - just stop showing up for your quadrennial aging reversals, and in time dear old Mother Nature will solve the problem for you - permanently. Better to develop new interests.

Vital research is stifled because the FDA does not regard aging as a disease. But many of us who suffer from it do so regard it. Something that first uglifies (at least in this culture), then debilitates, then immiserates, and finally, kills everyone not already dead from other causes, is a disease. 


I

HolyWow
HolyWow

This better mean they're funding SENS, or a version of SENS. If they are then this could end up being one of the most significant turning points in human history. That's not even hyperbole. 

hemantsoman
hemantsoman

the times we live in huh? 

But am certain every single generation before that said the same.

D_Coder
D_Coder

This is why I tell people to read science fiction -- just so you can keep up!

ronny.risoen
ronny.risoen

@MikeMacdougall  It sounds more like you're in a psychological desperate need of confirming your worldview more than you are in need of an end to your existence. 

Life-expectancy has hugely rose the last centuries, changing our paradigm of how many days a life should contain to be sufficent. As you put a limit on those days and see life fulfilled within so and so many days, you argue with 21. centuries paradigm of life expectancy and what life should contain to be seen as a "sufficent" adventure as you say. With the life-expectancy of some centuries ago, you probably wouldnt be alive by know to even argue. When you get what you want; death, other people will live on, experiencing love, bliss and life. At least - those who live will see. 

kahryl
kahryl

@MikeMacdougall You know what all the people who say immortality sucks have in common?

None of them are immortal.

ChubbiestLamb6
ChubbiestLamb6

@CynthiaShenk I think you misunderstand him. He was using our idyllic view of what a world without cancer would be like to point out how we might not be prioritizing the right things in terms of a long term plan to dramatically increase the average life expectancy of a human (including one who never gets cancer). Curing cancer is very important, and there will still be people doing that, but Page was hinting at Calico's goal: take a look at what ACTUALLY causes the GREATEST decreases in life expectancy to the MOST people, and find ways around THOSE problems. Ways that, potentially, will require years and years of effort as well incredible investments of funds that the average medical company couldn't afford to undertake. But since Google doesn't need to make any sort of profit off of this venture, they are free to explore much more grandiose and far-fetched but potentially extremely rewarding possibilities in terms of gerontology. By no means was Page trying to trivialize cancer or say that it's "no big deal." 

kahryl
kahryl

@uneven "Sorry we read your email, here's a pill that will cure aging".

I, for one, would accept that apology.

adsfund
adsfund

@govett if you're interested in helping extend lifespans, please look at Ads Fund, which is a direct competitor to Google and its advertising services. Ads Fund has users from over 20 different countries, and needs more people to opt-in to see its adverts.

MC
MC

@gunduru And then once everyone's asleep, power changes hands, and then everyone awakes to a new world.

butterkatyafly
butterkatyafly

@AdamJBraus Those diseases would occur anyway (maybe at a lower rate) because irrespective of life expectancy people would have remained mortal anyway.

tdelaveaux
tdelaveaux

@AdamJBraus Aging is a multibillion dollar business right now, many powerful interests don't want it to end. Suffering = drugs = profit!

DavidCRSI
DavidCRSI

@ForrestWalters Yes Forrest - great post, I agree with everything you said. In addition check out crsociety.org. Try to live healthy as long as you can to have a chance to reap the benefits of future technologies.

CynthiaShenk
CynthiaShenk

@ChubbiestLamb6 @CynthiaShenk 

Thank you but "People" have been doing that for over 100 years and we still don't have a cure. Now as we speak people, women and children are dying of cancer around the world. It's the most feared words anyone can hear. Instead of dreaming about being God..why not take the money, intellect and unlimited resources you have and just focus on closing that gap..Find the cure for all cancers.

I know its not sexy, I know its not Hollywood like the AIDS push for cure but its real, its deadly and it causes such pain and misery to billions of people right now as we speak. Not only the person with cancer but the entire family. Trust me finding the cure for all cancers would be an extremely "Big Deal".