Google’s Calico Tackles Aging and Illness

google.cover.indd“Here’s to the crazy ones. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  Steve Jobs

On September 18, 2013, Google announced an ambitious new company called Calico that will focus on health and well-being, specifically related to aging and associated diseases. Calico’s Chief Executive Officer will be Arthur D. Levinson, former CEO of biotech pioneer Genentech and Chairman of Apple. In Google’s press release, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said: “For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn’t have to be this way”.

If we are to believe that Arthur D. Levinson is one of the ‘crazies’ who can change the world, what monumental changes in relation to aging and healthcare can we expect from Calico? Google CEO Larry Page made it clear in his announcement that Calico is a long term investment and there is not much to share at this point. However, he enthusiastically states, “there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives”.

Although the news announcements from Google and Larry Page are very brief, the media, appears to have come to a consensus when speculating on how Calico will proceed with its new venture.

TIME magazine speculates that Calico, “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”. In the same article. Page questions past approaches to healthcare research by stating, “Are people really focused on the right things? One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you’d only add about three years to peoples average life expectancy”.

PC Magazine puts it another way, “On a more practical level, Calico is one of Google’s more realistic “moonshots” because it’s going to be driven by what Google is really good at: collecting and disseminating gobs and gobs of data”.

Hopefully, as John Nasta at Forbes magazine states, “The marriage of great thinking, guts, with technology, big data and genomics just may reboot the entire digital health movement”.

Here’s to the people who think they can change the world and the potential for great things from Calico!


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