With new health moonshot venture 'Calico,' it's 'Google vs. Death'


What’s google?


I’m just wondering how quickly (and frequently) they’ll tack between ‘fascinating’ and ‘totally fucking creepy’. Unless Google is bankrolling something conceptually unrelated to their core MO, which seems like a curious move, it’ll be downright logical for them to drag truly epic volumes of lifestyle data (possibly some tidbits from Sergei’s wife Ann over at 23 and me, depending on how their togetherness problems are these days) into the problem.

This may well be a good idea, from the perspective of getting the right answer; but it screams ‘What could possibly go wrong?’


This sounds fantastic, and I hope they improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
Another angle is that the USA government spending on Healthcare is 19% of total GDP, with compound growth about 7-8%, which is better than most banks offer presently. There’s a lot of money to be made from healthcare, particularly as most of Google’s users/customers/products can be considered the first world’s “aging population”.
Ballsy move, and surprisingly long-term thinking.

The longer we live, the longer they can sell us ads.


I bet that improvements in actuarial data (ideally, and not implausibly, tied to consumer behavior that Google can observe; but which is not considered a ‘medical record’ for any legal purposes) would be worth more than the ads.

If anybody is in a position to offer “Web browsing profiles of future sickies whose prolonged decline you should definitely avoid insuring” or ‘Geolocation activity characteristics of low-average-cost-subgroups’ data, it’d be a Google-backed medical research entity…

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Ditch the ‘curing death’ clickbait, and we have some very promising ideas here. Kudos to Google putting their money where their mouth is, and their size to try and tackle the harder things: improving quality of life, done effectively and cheaply.

They have an open attitude to working with others which gives this promise.

But just spare me the ‘we’ll save you from death spiel’. We all have to die. Denying that isn’t going to help anyone.

Yep, you pretty much said what I was thinking when I read this. A little scary to think about the ramifications.

I don’t think it’s that far out of googles skillset really. It looks like there won’t be a single switch that deals with aging, and instead it will involve many biochemical elements, in a very large network of interacting molecules. Google catalogues data, and there’s an awful lot going on inside you. There’s probably some way they can monetise this in the coming personalised medicine revolution.

Google doesn’t sell personal information. You can’t ask Google for how likely your employee is to drop dead. The only thing Google sells is pools of people to target for advertising. If I went to sell a board game on the 'tubes, Google can steer it towards their “nerds who are likely to buy board games” pool. The worst Google can do is fire ads for cheap insurance at healthy people.

The real danger is your government. The government can force Google to hand over, well, anything. Of course, the government can do the same to your credit card, ISP, cell phone carrier, or any company.

In the battle between Google and Death, I am rooting for Google. I don’t even find this all that shocking. Google has gobs of money and it really can’t go much deeper into its current field. If they expand too horizontally inside of their own market, they are going to face antitrust claims. So, they have gobs of money and are somewhat legally limited from doing too much more in their own field and related fields by both the fact that they have already crushed the competition, and that they really can’t throw any more money at it and get better results. It makes a lot of sense to take a few shovel fulls of money from the big money pile and throw them at something crazy where they can leverage their ability to deal with big data.

I probably also wouldn’t be surprised if there is a little pushing from the top from people who are starting to get to the point where they have to think of their own mortality and wonder if they can leverage their massive corporation to preserve themselves. I won’t complain. I sure would rather have immortality or at least a few more years of life than a fucking app. It saddens me to think how many of our best and brightest are making fucking phone apps or high frequency trading algorithms.

There are two main ways in gerontology. First one, to save the lives of people still living. Second, to create human longevity. The second way I do not know. But the first one is simple: we should to revive the young function and structures the vital organ that to 70-90 years has worn down to a critical state, after which comes the death of the organism. It is our skin, the shell of the body, its lungs, kidneys and external brain, nervous, endocrine, circulatory system, etc. More Ashley Montagu pointed out the importance of this organ. For 70-90 years, it performs much wear and 15-20% of its functions. Hence, the diseases of internal organs, which strongly depend on it, hence the death of the organism.
Is it possible to restore young structures and functions of old skin? It is. Skin as muscles, bones derived from stem cells, and can develop. But nobody does this. Or does wrong. It is matter of technique. Updated, hardened skin, this largest organ, will allow organism stay young and live without time constraints. There are no genes or programs of aging in the body. The human genome is transcribed. This can be done today. It is not expensive, but it will bring huge amount of money. Our aging and death is the result of misunderstanding the nature of this phenomenon by gerontologists. This error has already been fixed.
Valery Chuprin, Mr.
Valery Chuprin, William Mihajlovic, Three layer functional model and energy exchange concept of aging process, AGE Magazine, Springer 2006, 28:111–121 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2464718/pdf/11357_2005_Article_4258.pdf

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