Thursday, October 3, 2013

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.

Larry Page, Google CEO

Said Larry Page, Google CEO, on September 18, 2013, announcing the launch of a new company named 'Calico' that will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases. As per the press release from Google HQ, Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer and a founding investor. Arthur Levinson, one of the leading scientists, entrepreneurs and CEOs, has devoted much of his life to science and technology, with the goal of improving human health. The press release has quoted him saying : "Larry’s focus on out-sized improvements has inspired me, and I’m tremendously excited about what’s next.” (Larry Page on Calico)

Arthur D. Levinson
Born on March 31, 1950 in Seattle, WA, Levinson received his Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology from the University of Washington (1972) and earned a doctorate in Biochemical Sciences from Princeton University (1977). He is also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (source : CV). He is also a member of the Roche Board of Directors. 

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, commenting on Larry Page's new project and Levinson's appointment as the CEO, 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. There is no one better suited to lead this mission and I am excited to see the results.”

It is a widely known fact that Larry does not think in terms of 10 percent improvement in a product or service. He expects his employees to create products and services that are 10 times better than the competition. This is because he feels that a 10 percent improvement means that you’re basically doing the same thing as everybody else. According to him, with this approach one probably won’t fail spectacularly, but certainly can't succeed wildly. Its not enough to discover a couple of hidden efficiencies or tweaking code to achieve modest gains. At the same time, Larry is of the view that thousand-percent improvement requires rethinking problems entirely, exploring the edges of what’s technically possible, and having a lot more fun in the process. It is said that Larry lives in a 10x world where working on moonshot projects is a way of life - a habit rather than a dream. Through Calico, Larry wants to pursue one of his radical ideas and proposals (also called 'Moonshots') aimed at achieving immortality.

Ray Kurzweil speaking on innovation
and the future of technology at
2013 Georgia Technology Summit
Ray Kurzweil - who joined Google as Director of Engineering in December last year - is a well known researcher in the field of Applied Intelligence (AI), a leading futurist and a successful author and entrepreneur.  He is described as a 'Singularitarian Immortalist' in media because he is confident that humans will soon develop technology advanced enough to keep us alive forever. In his lectures and writings he claims that within 15 years we’ll have technology that will let us add years to our lives at a pace that’s faster than the years we lose through natural aging. Speaking at the Global Future 2045 conference (GF2045), held in New York City in June 2013, Kurzweil said that 3-D molecular computing would provide the hardware for human-level ‘strong’ AI well before 2030. He hoped that as a result of achieving inconceivable heights of intelligence, material progress, computation, communication, biological technologies — DNA sequencing etc. human immortality could be achieved by 2045. The appointment of Kurzweil is now being seen as a part of Google's plan to execute its Moonshot Calico project aimed at achieving immortality.

Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page's detailed interview has been published in the Sept. 30 issue of TIME in which he talks at length about the Calico project. The Time has provided a content preview under the title "Google vs. Death".

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