THEY’RE famed for their limitless sense of possibility, whether it’s mapping the world’s streets or creating driverless cars.
Now Google bosses have turned their sights on a much more complex subject – the human body.
The tech giant has recently embarked on a series of high profile hires for its new venture Calico, a company which wants to extend human life by up to 100 years.
Short for California Life Company, Calico is headed up by Art Levinson, the former CEO of biotech company Genentech and Apple board member, who this week announced the elite recruits on Google+.
Pharmaceutical guru Hal Barron will serve as President of research and development, while David Botsein, the former head of Princeton’s Genome Unit will be chief scientific officer.
Genetics expert Cynthia Kenyon and oncology expert Robert Cohen will also join the company.
So far the company, which is backed by Google but run as a separate entity, has kept its cards close to its chest with no details on the amount of funding they have received.
However it fits with co-founder Larry Page’s vision that Google should think about big ideas that can make the world exponentially better.
Google co-founders Sergey Brin (L) and Larry Page have plans well beyond search and email.
“OK … so you’re probably thinking wow! That’s a lot different from what Google does today. And you’re right. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives,” Mr Pageposted on Google+ when the new venture was announced.
“So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing internet businesses. And please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business.”
It comes after the company hired Ray Kurzweil as engineering director, the 65-year-old credited with inventing speech recognition technology who also has unusual views on mortality.
The futurist and inventor is renowned for publishing The Singularity , a book which envisions a world where man and machine merge to create the path to immortality.
He also takes 150 supplements a day to keep his body in optimum condition until the “nanotechnology revolution” takes place.
Ray Kurzweil takes 150 supplements a day and believes human bodies will merge with machines. Picture: AP.
“Biology is a software process. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells, each governed by this process. You and I are walking around with outdated software running in our bodies, which evolved in a very different era,” Kurzweil said in an interview withMaclean‘s.
“At that point, we can have little robots, sometimes called nanobots, that augment your immune system. We can create an immune system that recognises all disease, and if a new disease emerged, it could be reprogrammed to deal with new pathogens,” he said.
Google’s not the only one getting on board with immortality.
Russian millionaire Dmitry Itskov’s 2045 Initiative is working on building an avatar with a human brain, where one’s personality can be transferred at the end of their human life.
Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison donated $445 million to fight ageing diseases, while PayPal founder Peter Thiel also gave $3.5 million to work on anti-ageing efforts, the LA Times reports.
News.com.au has contacted Google for comment.