The Highlander

Google launches moonshot immortality project

It sounds as if the folks at Google are doing a search of their own for immortality.

On Wednesday, Google announced it was forming new subsidiary company known as Calico that “will focus on health and well-being in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.” The exact whats and hows of Calico haven’t been made public, but the current Time magazine cover story, “Google vs Death,” describes it as a project that will “seriously attempt to extend [the] human lifespan.”

Immortality would certainly be in line with other big-idea "moonshots" such as self-driving cars, flying turbines, or free global Wi-Fi provided by balloons. While Calico will not be part of Google [X], the lab run by Sergey Brin where most of Google's more ambitious programs are born, CEO Larry Page commented, “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives."

Arthur D. Levinson, the chairman of biotech firm Genentech and Apple will take over as CEO of Calico. He will retain both his posts with Genentech and Apple.

The Time cover story reveals little about the project aside from the vague promise that Calico will start “with a small number of employees and focus initially on researching new technology.”

This isn’t the only recent move Google has made on the immortality front. The company also recently hired Singularity evangelist Ray Kurzweil to be its director of engineering. Kurzweil has been a proponent that humanity can achieve digital immortality, possibly through advanced brain-computer interfaces. To that end, Kurzweil is working with Google to develop artificial intelligence technologies that he hopes will be able to digitally recreate human consciousness.

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