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If You Could, Would You Want to Live Forever? Google Thinks You Might

If You Could, Would You Want to Live Forever? Google Thinks You Might
Image credit: REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Google is known for its online search engine. And for its advertising business. But, over the years, the tech giant has expanded into new areas such as driverless cars and "smart" glasses. Now, Google has invested in a company called Calico, which it says will focus on health and well-being -- in particular, the "challenge of aging and associated diseases."

"Illness and aging affect all our families," Google chief executive Larry Page said in a blog post announcing the new venture. "With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives."

For those who aren't familiar with Google's in-house lingo, a "moonshot" is a project that pushes the envelope in some far-out kind of way. Some moonshots could be genius. Others, well, ridiculous.

Despite Calico being the subject of a Time magazine cover story called "Can Google Solve Death?", details about what the new company will actually do have not been disclosed. What is known for sure is that Calico will be headed by Arthur D. Levinson, chairman and former CEO of Genentech and chairman of Apple. Levinson stepped down from Google's board in 2009.

Page himself suffers from a health condition that he only recently talked about. He has been diagnosed with vocal cord paralysis, a rare nerve condition that affects his ability to speak. Of course, another entrepreneur who famously struggled and succumbed to his health issues was Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011 after a painful battle with pancreatic cancer.

It remains to be seen whether Calico will someday be considered genius or simply ridiculous. (You really think someone can eliminate death? If anyone has a shot, why not Google, right?) In the meantime, the new project has already received an official thumbs up from Apple chief executive Tim Cook.

"For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking," he was quoted saying in the announcement. "Art [Levinson] is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn't have to be this way."

Related: Google CEO Larry Page's Vocal Condition and Breaking the Silence About Illness
 

Jason Fell is the managing editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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