Absolutely brilliant. Finally, Aubrey De Grey's unapologetically straightforward logic  regarding aging has gained traction with the crowd who has the means to tackle this grand challenge. I am sincerely proud of Page and Brin for their vision and commitment.
This is one of those rare times that powerful people make bold choices that catalyze a shift in the world's thought paradigm. Aging will now be seen for what it is: the root of all chronic illness.
Absolutely. The goal should be to enact a vector of a new paradigm, as proactive team players synergize an out-of-the-box strategy of functionality and infotainment, re-engineering the learning curve framework of your
This will result in a significant thought paradigm shift in all things health-related, and it's a great thing that a company with as many resources and as high of a profile as Google is looking into this. Google is a company that is making self-driving cars, providing incredibly fast internet to consumers, providing Internet to suffering areas with a new idea (the Loon), exploring definitively new ideas for hardware (Google Glass) -- and now they're looking into aging.
I'd say Google guys are sufficiently more respectable than the political chameleon who's lobbying DC today , and just recently directed considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes .
Its mostly not. Jargon is specialized use of terms used to facilitate clear communication of ideas within a specific community/domain. Management speak -- at least the form that is often mocked -- is just using flowery language to conceal the absence of substance, and is pretty much the opposite of jargon.
I spend a lot of time talking to managers, and most what they are saying isn't what people describe as "management speak" (which is, despite the phrase usually used to describe it, more the language of marketing and PR -- which, to be fair, managers frequently necessarily engage in and all too often are also victims of.)
There is a jargon of management -- an array of terms with precise meanings in the field that are either not used outside of the field or are used outside with different meanings, and which facilitate clear communication in the domain.
But that's really not what people are talking about when they are talking complaining about "management speak", which seems to be all about marketing/PR buzzwords which are used to create certain feelings while minimizing communication of clear commitments and detailed information, which are used by management either when they are acting to promote the business in marketing/PR role, or when they've been successfully snowed over by some vendor's or other industry player's marketing.
"The problem with this is that "make it happen faster" is already clear and sufficient."
I disagree. Catalyze is more succinct. In addition, to catalyze has the connotation of making change happen via the injection of a catalyst, thus connecting the agent of change with the change it brings. It's a better word.
Simple English Wikipedia sacrifices nuance to fit to its constrained lexicon. It is possible to explain pretty much anything using only 1000 words (and probably fewer), but it's going to be awkward because language is more than just conveying ideas through words. Words also have sounds and rhythm and evoke different images and emotions beyond their literal dictionary definition. For that reason, Simple English Wikipedia fails at being literature, but succeeds in communicating ideas to people that don't speak English. Since the latter is its goal, it's successful. But it's not something to imitate if you desire to communicate rather than just describe.
And, some phrases are simply used too often by people trying to sound smart when they really have nothing to say. There is nothing wrong with catalyzing synergy, but because so many people have applied those words when they had nothing to say, the phrase has gradually become meaningless. Omit meaningless words.
Management is itself a field, with its own jargon. You can have good management and poor management (just as you can have good engineering or poor management) but don't pretend that the use or absence of "management jargon" is somehow intrinsically connected to that.
Managers have their jargon because they often trade in abstract concepts (Plan of Record, Resources, Asks, Action Items, OKRs) peculiar to their trade that are ripe for shorthanding, which is pretty similar to the reason you see it in other fields.
yes, but it's much faster now (look at how quickly the RNA World Hypothesis took over after Noller, Woese, and Cech demonstrated their results. One might say we're catalyzing paradigm shifts through network effects. Then engineers would complain I was using management talk, but I can assure you, that's a succinct and accurate way to explain it.
If it's a "succinct and accurate way to explain it" then why do so many people find it jarring and confusing? If management speak really is a jargon then it is useful only when talking to other managers, not to people in general. (And, it would appear, especially not when talking to engineers.)
No (nor is it an oxymoron, which I think is more relevant); a paradigm is a defining pattern, and quite including a pattern of action. Its frequently used in a way which implicitly references a pattern of thought, but its not redundant to make that explicit.
Sebastian Thrun's team was the first winner of DARPA driverless vehicles (2nd year) challenge, the year before that contestants failed very early. Do you know car manufacturers with such know-how ? They probably had research about it but I doubt they were as complete. Since Google backed the project they did very extensive tests in the real world. GM and such are bringing back computer aided driving but I'm sure they're too busy sustaining their business to put resources in something as disruptive and risky.
Google didn't start first at all. Maybe they have the right people but as far as resources, other car companies have them too. That's their bread and butter, not some experiment
By the way: " Mercedes missed a barn-door sized opportunity last week when it revealed technical details of next year's 2014 S-class, which showed that while this flagship model could potentially have been the world's first autonomous driving car, Mercedes has decided not to give it that capability. For now, the driver's hands have to remain on the wheel at all times.
"... Mercedes-Benz announced Monday that it had successfully driven an autonomous S-Class sedan 62 miles on German city streets."
Well, shit, that quote right there plus your hostile attitude sure have me impressed. 62 whole miles! They're clearly on the doorstep of releasing a production autonomous car, as you were trying to imply over at <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6408590>.
Meanwhile, that other company's car has made the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles (at least 380 miles, in case you didn't know):
Well, shit, that quote right there plus your hostile attitude sure have me impressed. 62 whole miles! They're clearly on the doorstep of releasing a production autonomous car
I'm here to impress you sir, that's my mission in life.
Now who said that they drove a total of 62 miles vs a 62 mile trip? Did the car crash at mile 62 or they reached the destination? All these are little details that need to be taken in consideration before an idiot exclaims "Google is #1 in autonomous cars..."
Well, sorry to say that you're failing pretty hard at your mission then. But do keep ramping up the snarky rhetoric. It looks like I hit a nerve.
I didn't say anything about total miles; I was comparing Mercedes' single 62 mile trip against the other car's single 380+ mile trip. But if you want to bring up total miles logged, That Company In Mountain View hit 300k miles last year  and there are absolutely no public numbers from Mercedes. If the figure were impressive, they'd probably have released it.
But now you want to make a fuss over the LIDAR on top of That Company's car while the S Class gets by on just radar. Your earlier post quoted a Mercedes engineer saying "we have had test cars doing that, but what happens if a child steps out into the street and the radar misses it?" -- well, gosh, maybe that funny spinning thing is doing something useful. Wouldn't you want an autonomous car to use any and every available method to detect obstacles? Details indeed.
Okay, I'd say you're both off here. I think you're right that Bsullivan should take Google more seriously - I think he's going to have to eat his hat with the way Google is heading. But you shouldn't dismiss Mercedes - the German car companies are very smart, and have the potential to be top players over the coming decades.
There are more people who believe the google brain washing of "Google itself is singularly advancing the world of driving, ubiquitous computing, and medicine!" than realize google is just very noisy about the things it does (plus the fan-blog-fawning multiplier of hearing about the same thing in 10,000 different outlets).
Ever since coming across Aubrey De Grey I've been waiting for a more mainstream adoption of his ideas. I can only hope you're right and that this announcement will incite real change in the public's opinion on age.
Absolutely. Right now money is the bottleneck for the things that SENS is doing, so rich companies joining in are very welcome, as is the mainstream coverage that will come with them (hopefully resulting in more donations).
"Aging will now be seen for what it is: the root of all chronic illness." .. That´s simply not true. There are people suffering chronic illnesses at very young ages - ones that are completely unrelated to aging. Aging is a natural process that all biological species undergo - humans are no different. There are plenty of people who have lived healthy and normal lives, aged, and then died naturally. Chronic illnesses are caused by genetic factors and / or personal habits.
Honestly, this just smells like trying to get positioned favorably for the coming geriatric population bubble as the boomers finally reach the point where they aren't able to screw everything up anymore.
That whole article is incredibly creepy -- 'War on Aging' -- do we really need more 'War on X' rhetoric? Regarding the fact that we know that we eventually die, he states
> So soul-destroying has this knowledge been, for almost everyone, that we have constructed our entire society and world view around ways to put it out of our minds'.
Absolutely ridiculous. Besides the fact that I think a 'soul' is a poorly-defined construct and thus hard to crush, I really don't see a problem with death; to me it's just as necessary as birth. Sure, it's sad when someone dies, and death can be a traumatic experience, but it's also simply part of being a biological organism. I suppose I find some agreement with de Grey in that large portions of societies fear death and try not to think about it. However, perpetual avoidance through the declaration of war on Death seems practically infantile in view.
It's part of being a biological organism thus far. There's nothing to say we can't do better. To the rest -- in particular, the notion that wanting people not to die is "infantile" -- I reply with a link: http://www.yudkowsky.net/singularity/simplified/
To my knowledge, it's part of the broad criticism that Yudkowsky doesn't seem to have any concept of avoiding overpopulation or general overconsumption of resources. It's like when people go around saying God gave us the Earth to exploit, except with an entire 14-billion light-year-wide Hubble Volume.
"To your knowledge?" What, do you not know what point you're actually making?
More seriously, I don't think that's an accurate comparison. What fundamentally is the problem with the people saying "God gave us the Earth to exploit"? Well, it's what you said, overconsumption. But what is actually wrong with "overconsumption"? (That is to say, at what point does consumption become overconsumption?) Is there something inherently wrong with pumping lots of oil out of the earth? No, of course not. What's wrong with consuming too much now is that it leaves less for us later. Or that it has other ill effects, such as polluting the atmosphere and making our environment unlivable. There's nothing wrong with unbounded amount of consumption per se if we can find a way to deal with the ill effects (and make sure to leave enough for future people). The value against overconsumption is instrumental, not terminal. If you are in a situation where such consumption would cause a problem, well, don't do that then; but if you're not, go ahead.
Similarly with overpopulation -- there's nothing inherently wrong with a universe full of people; the worry rather is that you'll have so many people with so little space and resources for each that they'd have a terrible quality of life. Once again: Well, don't do that, then! Anticipate problems and avert them (or fail to anticipate them and then solve them, possibly by reducing population or consumption). Eliezer Yudkowsky is not suggesting anything close to the idea that we should make as many people as possible even if all of them would be miserable, or that we consume every resource as fast as possible even if we render the world uninhabitable for our descendants.
In short, the problem is not a large population, nor lots of consumption, but the side-effects of these things, and the shortsightedness that leads people to disregard them. Gotta maintain the distinction between terminal values and instrumental ones.
...OK, there is one obvious thing I'm glossing over. Namely, the idea that it's good to leave some space for the non-humans, as well; their disregard for other forms of life is I think something else we would agree is wrong with the "God gave us the earth to exploit" people, and there the comparison with Yudkowsky is perhaps a little more accurate. But, regarding animals, I don't think Yudkowsky's position is really different from that of most people. Yes, we'd like to have a world with, say, polar bears in it, and not just ones in zoos, or ones who are miserable all the time; but we probably wouldn't want to have a world that was partly ordered according to polar bear values. (Whatever that means.)
Now, other intelligent forms of life is a another can of worms, but I don't think the "God gave us the Earth to exploit" people worry much about those, so I'm going to stop here because I don't really know how to compare there.
(Also I'm not really sure that your earlier "tiling" post is really an accurate representation of Yudkowsky's ideas, but I didn't really want to argue about it, partly because I'm not prepared to right now and partly because it seemed essentially irrelevant.)
> death can be a traumatic experience, but it's also simply part of being a biological organism.
This tends to be glossed over in discussions of his work, but Aubrey de Grey is specifically interested in reducing the (currently inevitable) human suffering associated with aging. Clinical immortality would be an eventual side-effect of succeeding in that mission.
Every manner of treatable and correctable disease and condition is "part of being a biological organism," but it seems absurd to hold such a standpoint if you're not also in favour of discarding modern medicine in order to die slowly and painfully from cancer.
"it's also simply part of being a biological organism."
Absolutely everything we have built with technology is not simply part of being a biological organism. Who are you to say what being a biological organism is about? For that matter, what's special about biology (nothing, but that's a different discussion)?
Smallpox is simply a part of being a biological organism. Fighting with other organisms to the death is part of being a biological organism. Survival of the fittest is part of being a biological organism. But we're better than that. See, we have pretty powerful brains that allow us to escape the endless cycle of suffering and death that is "being a biological organism". You're not forced to use yours for that purpose, but don't act like there is some bright line between all the other supposed rules we break and curing death. It is all part of the same progression.
Aubrey has been talking about tackling aging as a disease for a long time now. Some of us have been waiting for some real serious investment in that direction because historically it seems he has been the lone voice in the field willing to challenge aging in this way.
This announcement could be interpreted as strong support for the general concepts that Aubrey talks about.
He's not, he's just well known as having put together the first clear roadmap for life extension and ultimately "curing" death. If anyone could be considered the "father" of the field, it's him. Hence the comparisons people are making.
>This is one of those rare times that powerful people make bold choices that catalyze a shift in the world's thought paradigm.
Let's just go ahead and pump the brakes here before we start clapping each other on the back and talking about shifted paradigms. I'll gladly join in the happy-clappy fest once some actual results come through. But saying we've catalyzed a shift in the world's thought paradigm (that is a really pretentious way of saying "this might make people think differently", by the way) at the announcement of a new product might be just a wee bit premature.
An interesting point from one of Calico's announcements is a statement that curing all cancer would only add ~3 years to the expected lifespan.
This is thought provoking - if even a perfect solution to such a problem won't give us what we want, then we do need to "make people think differently" and try to focus on a different, bigger problem than the current approach of trying to strike out separate illnesses.
By the way, allowing medicine to think about not only "how to bring a broken-person to average" but "how to bring an average person to above-average" would also require a major change in the way of thinking for the whole area. Some homo sapiens are extremely resistant for diseases, some are smarter than average, some have much lower aging damage. Instead of thinking how to fix a genetic disease by replacing a broken gene with the "average" one; we should think about what is the best that we, as a species, could be.
The biggest predictor of a society's average predicted lifespan is infant mortality. Most of the gains in average lifespan over the last 100 years is from increasing the number of children who live past 2.
3 years increase from a non-infant mortality related improvement is actually pretty huge. I'd have to look it up, but I think the impact of non-infant vaccinations would be roughly a similar sized increase.
3 years increase from a non-infant mortality is pretty huge only when compared to what we have done before - but it's not huge compared to the actual lifespan.
Going from 80 to 83 (for example) is nice, but it doesn't have a radical impact on how we should live our lives - going from 80 to 160 could do that. If we want major improvements, then we either need to make sure that the other things are cumulative (say, that we can get 20 disease-cures to add 3 years each); or we need to look in completely different directions.
It depends on what you see as a goal - in the long run, I believe that we can get to lifespans measured in centuries, because it's technically possible as seen from other lifeforms. If the marginal improvements due to curing diseases can't get us there, then we should investigate other options how to achieve that, instead of treating a 5% increase as "pretty huge" and being satisfied with that.
I agree. The goal should be to achieve the best compromise between quality and length. Pushing from 80 to 130 is good and all, but I would prefer the research to be focused on preserving youthfulness rather than life in and for itself, i.e. I would rather die a young 80 year old than a decrepit 130 year old walking corpse. Of course, even better would be to die a young 130 y.o., or not die at all.
Well, but that's exactly what anti-aging research is about. If you learn how to fix heart disease or cure cancer or cure Alzheimers, then anyway afterwards you are a frail, decrepit person with a couple more years to live; but if you delay or fix the actual aging issues, then it prolongs the time that you are healthy and well-functioning.
Changing the way people around the world think about death is pretty significant, though. It's going to rewrite important aspects of many cultures. Edit: I mean "make people think differently" is underselling it.
A great problem is the current mindset. Many, many people think of life extension as undesirable. It's mind-boggling at first sight, but then you understand it for what it is: the Stockholm Syndrome, with Death as the hostage-taker, and all the life-extension-deniers as the hostages.
We need to get out of that hole first. Google is doing the right thing.
Thinking that death is a problem or 'a bad thing that happens' is incredibly short-sighted. Improving the well-being of humanity in general is a great goal; life extension can be a different topic entirely.
While I'd love to live a thousand years (as long as it's in decent health), the big danger to society is obviously that it'll be the very rich that will live that long, and they'll hold on to their power that much longer. It creates an even bigger division between rich and poor.
Imagine what the world would look like if the medieval elite were still alive today. It's good that the people in power die every once in a while.
The problem that I see with this statement, from my perspective:
If everyone died at 30, everyone would say the same thing about life extension past 30.
If everyone died at 200, everyone would say the same thing about life extension past 200.
Why does death have to be where it is now? Natural death from aging comes a little longer than a few other causes of death tend to hit, but it's still very, very soon. People's twitch thinking skills start to decline so early (even in the 20s), and while they can more than make up for it through increasing knowledge, we have so little time to build that knowledge before we have to go.
I for one welcome my immortal transhumanist cyborg overlords.
But seriously, the fact that the first thing they do is start a corporation to control the science is not exactly comforting to me. Genentech is known for selling Avastin, their drug that fights cancer for $55k after they received harsh criticism for the proposed cost of $100k+/year.
Like with anything else, the question isn't whether the rich will be able to afford it, the question is how much progress can we make in making it cheap, how quickly, to get it to how many people?
It is a moral imperative to make sure that short-sighted class warfare does not cut off the nose to spite the face by destroying this work under the guise of egalitarianism, because we can not turn on a dime and immediately grant it to everyone on day one. Yes, the rich will get it first. We need to ensure that market mechanisms remain functional and that they end up subsidizing the research the rest of us need. If we build gates and walls, they'll just end up captured in a heartbeat. Don't let them be built.
(Once the market has chewed on it and made it as cheap as possible, consider subsidizing it or something, but for the love of Life itself, don't break the market and destroy the research before it even happens. Seemingly suboptimal situations may need to be relatively briefly tolerated to make sure this happens at all.)
I have no problem with free market capitalism, if it's fair. But some think that companies like Genetech exploit the rules around patents and intellectual property at the expense of people's lives and receive preferential status.
There's a difference between making your money back to cover the cost of research and development while making a profit, and plain old greed. A 20 year lifetime on a patent with a 3-7 year window of exclusivity means you might be dead before you can afford treatment. That's one of the ethical issues that we will hopefully address in a sane and logical way as we move forward. How much money should one be able to make if they are adding days to your life?
I do agree that this type of thing may be helpful to humanity. I just cast a skeptical eye knowing how the drug industry has worked in the past.
Bear in mind I consider everything you just said to themselves be failures to allow for a free market. Patents are government monopolies, not creations of a free market.
(To which the natural next slur is "Oh, you want no regulation then?" No, I strongly believe a free market requires some basic maintenance to harness properly, and I'm a particular fan of internalizing externalities via government action. However, virtually by definition, if patents are being "abused", that is not maintenance; that's sand in the gears.)
I consider the idea that we live in some sort of anarchic free market wonderland today to be nothing more than propaganda, used by those who want to use government to take even more control over your life. There's very few free segments of the modern market that are even remotely free; they simply aren't as centrally managed and regulated as they could be.
I should have qualified that statement more. What I meant was I am against rigging the system and cronyism. "Free market" was the wrong term. I prefer a market that is overlooked by society, with the authority given to government. It's a balance that is still unfair in a lot of aspects of course, because with a winner there is a loser. But the fairness comes in the fact that anyone can be a winner. We're still working on that obviously.
You mean, that there might be a war between the 150 year olds and the 250 year olds? Sign me up! I don't even care for which side!
The base state of the world that we live in is that everybody dies. Your hypotheticals about how horrible it might be to live in a world where people might not die have to be pretty horrible to compete with what is already true.
(Mind you, this is not an unleapable bar, in my opinion, but it's much higher than you just leapt.)
I remember discussing this in both of my philosophy courses, Intro and MetaEthics. In the intro course, the question was "Why should you fear death? When you're dead, by definition, you're not around to fear it, so why should you care?"
In meta-ethics, the question was "What does it mean for something to be horrible in the first place? How do you decide something is good or bad in the first place? If you fear your own nonexistence, why do you not fear the nonexistence of, say, unicorns?"
I never took an evolutionary psych course, but I read a bunch of their textbooks. I'd imagine the answer they'd give is "Of course you believe death is horrible. If your ancestors didn't, they wouldn't have an aversion to death, and so they would never have been around to reproduce, and so you wouldn't have been born. Therefore, we select for animals that fear death, because all animals that do not fear death never come into existence." There's something comforting about that perspective, knowing that our fears are nothing but evolutionary chance at work, but it's interesting to think that our fear of nonexistence is a consequence of our existence.
There was a book on that a little while ago by Shelly Kagan (decent excerpt at ). I think the evolutionary perspective is clearly "correct," but it doesn't quite answer the big questions for me. It establishes that "death is bad" is an axiom of our ethical system (and not a theorem of it,) but it has nothing to say when we ask whether we should attempt to adjust our morality.
> Life is all there is. When you die, from your perspective, that is the end of all things.
So? Why does that matter? From my perspective, before I was born and after I die are equivalent on account of me not being able to have a perspective. 13.8 billion years of the universe where I didn't exist wasn't horrible before so I don't see why it will be so horrible in 60 or 80 more years when I don't exist again.
It's weird how people get very philosophical and accepting about death form old age, but are horrified by murder, suicide, deadly airplane crashes, gas explosions, and so on. You get just as dead either way, but somehow death from old age is considered to be just a natural part of the Plan.
I was referring to the act of turning the lights off...the big empty. No doubt some things that precede and result in death are nasty, but those aren't death.
For example, if death was embraced and voluntary euthanasia was allowed, people could just opt-out as the nastiness started (I'm not suggesting we do that, though).
Anyway, the point is that we shouldn't fear the ending. It's the things that precede it that we should rightfully fear and combat. In other words, focus less on extending life (after a point) and more on decreasing the ratio of painful-years/lifespan.
Why aren't you suggesting voluntary euthenasia once the horrible dying process has begun? You've said that death isn't horrible at all, but the process of dying is, so if you truly believe those things, why wouldn't you want to cut the awfulness short? You don't seem terribly interested in the length of life, as such, so cutting it a little bit shorter should seem like no great loss.
If we could effectively control aging and death, perhaps that would make human reproduction unnecessary or undesirable even. Perhaps that will stop all the nonsense in the name of "oh won't you think of the children?"
Generational warfare would definitely be something to consider. Imagine if immortality had been discovered 400 years ago. Are the ethics and morality of the leaders from 400 years ago something you, a person born in the late 20th century, would want to live under?
Generations eventually dying off keeps the human race moving forward in many ways.
Or, imagine that you didn't like the dominant views among the 50-60 year olds in power when you were in your twenties, and you offered up the idea that we should just withold medical treatment from people over 30 so that we could increase the speed of social progress.
that would only happen if you have a world that no longer creates new value, but simply redistributes ever diminishing existing size of the pie. I doubt that sort of dystopian society ala Cloud Atlas will ever come to pass, so there will always be room for young people to disrupt existing order
It's worth considering that extended lifespans could have very well result in you not living at all - the Earth can only sustain a limited number of people, and extended lifespans would result in a necessary decrease in new lives brought into this world.
Any action of anyone could prevent somebody from being conceived. Or inaction. Simply refusing to have as much unprotected sex as you could physically have results in new lives not being brought into this world...
I don't think we need to maximize amount of new people for the sake of it.
Old generation owes to the new generation to not screw them up by using up resources/making world worse than they got it, etc. But they have absolutely no obligations to actually _make_ a new generation.
I don't believe the laws of thermodynamics will ever come into play when talking about the expansion of the human race, at least insofar as we don't start talking about humanity as a universal mainstay for the remainder of the existence of... existence.
Normally I agree, but the implications of anti-aging treatment need to be considered.
Yes, the rich will get it first. But then think about what will happen: they will start living longer, and as a result, accumulate even more wealth over their lifetimes. While the poor will have 30-35 years of productive work-life, the rich will have much longer. Combined with the already large difference in their earning power, this will lead to a world where the rich not only life much higher quality lives, but also longer lives.
There are many issues for which I agree with you, that the trickle-down is a legitimately good process. But this, no. The concentration of power even more than currently is enough that I would rather forego it than encourage it just for that group of controlling interests.
I would rather no one have it than institute a system of even more perpetual control. We have already signed most of our existence over to the rich and the only equalization is that they die, too. It isn't cutting my nose off to spite my face to not want to live 70-80 years under the continually-strengthening ownership of those who will live to 200. (And, similarly, me living to 200 so I can work all those years for those who'll live 400 doesn't strike me as particularly awesome either.)
Once the market has chewed on it and made it as cheap as possible, consider subsidizing it or something
Your argument hinges on a hoary anti-Marxist critique. As one example alternative approach, the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars handed out to financial institutions and/or forgiven in legal penalties could have been used to reimburse companies for creating successful health technologies and treatments. It's a matter of policies and priorities, some of which are broken and some that aren't (Sturgeon's Law), and the market structures of medicine operate in the way that it does for specific reasons not necessarily aligned with benefits for those who are dying or sick.
Then fund a nonprofit research agency rather than a for-profit productizing company. Lots of countries have public healthcare systems who could administer life-extension treatments universally if they're not locked down and treated as proprietary, for-profit products!
Just like the internet, right? A great philantropic endeavour planned for all. Get real, real research doesn't happen in a vacuum, it happens for profit or some advantage. And then it trickles down not because the research funders pass it on, but because market dynamics eventually make it inevitable. So you'd rather the internet hadn't happened? The industrial revolution too? Well let's just head right back to stone age where everyone gets a chance at cracking each other's skull, that's where it's at.
Sorry if I'm being harsh, but seriously, "make it for everyone"? Who is that even directed at, god? It's not like post-scarcity and immortality will be the work of Larry Page or anyone in isolation who could take it upon themselves to do it altruistically.
Just like the internet, right? A great philantropic endeavour planned for all.
You mean a government-funded research program that took place in academia and released its results under open licensing, thus allowing a hacker-ethic of free contribution and usage?
Because that's how the internet happened, actually. Do remember that the Mosaic web browser was invented by Tim Burners-Lee at CERN while on public payroll, it was released under free licensing, and the whole infrastructure spread precisely because it was decentralized and open.
The internet versus the App Store is an excellent example of why we want publicly-funded, open-access research initiatives, not private profit-mongering.
Sorry if I'm being harsh, but seriously, "make it for everyone"? Who is that even directed at, god? It's not like post-scarcity and immortality will be the work of Larry Page or anyone in isolation who could take it upon themselves to do it altruistically.
Well, if God is listening, I'd certainly like Him to consider that He should come down and issue a few ethical guidelines before we start stomping all over His Creation trying to overpower Him!
I for myself am a little let-down by how many HNers would prefer to live indefinitely as potential economic slaves under a gerontocracy only because everyone is so afraid of dying. The only thing that actually comforts me is that I think aging is really an insolvable problem, the same as strong AI is an insolvable problem.
The hard-left argument that this will empower an elite is a silly and pointless one - life extension technology will be developed by China in the unlikely event that Western Luddites manage to throw a spanner in the works in their affluent countries.
The technology tidal wave we've been riding is going to take us to strange and probably unexpected places if we stay on long enough. What it is going to do to distribution of wealth, is anyone's guess.
On the labour/production side a technology seems to be creating wider income gaps. For the winners it is a lever with which to create more wealth. For others, they are competing with machines and poor countries (enabled by technology to work with rich ones) for work.
On the product consumption side, the gap is pretty small. The cheap netbook that almost anyone in Europe or the US can afford is not much different (in price or performance) from the one used by a billionaire. No matter how rich you are, you can't get a better smartphone than the models you can see in any bus. Even the low end (50-$100) smartphones are getting decent. I expect smartphones to be as ubiquitous as dumb ones soon, that means the gap between rich British & bangladeshi (measured in smartphone wealth) is plummeting.
Who knows what future waves of technology will look like, especially medical technology.
I think the appropriate response is keep an open mind and see where stuff takes us. Don't bind your thinking to past paradigms. Go read the Communist Manifesto. Realize how it is a product of its time, the industrial revolution. It takes a lot of contortion to try understanding the world by that paradigm. For Adam Smith, technological efficiency was about making pins.
I for one fear a future where anyone can become immortal. This would result in unimaginable struggles for our ecosystem.
I always feel modern medicine should focus on raising life quality for as long as we are alive, rather than extending life itself. But of course this view is painted by the large number of old people living in inhuman conditions we currently have.
Being immortal and having a high quality of life for as long as we are alive are not mutually exclusive. In fact, don't we have longer lives and better quality of life than our ancestors already? This would just be taking it one step further. Also, having a population that never dies has many more benefits than consequences. The amount of knowledge and experience that will not be wasted because of death is extremely valuable. Also, who says people will be giving birth to children as often as they are currently doing when they don't fear dying. Already in most developed nations the rate of population growth is plateauing. Also, don't forget we have an entire universe at our fingertips. I'm sure when we have 200 year old aerospace engineers and physicists we will be able to get to colonize other planets much faster.
People are and always will be free to die whenever they want. If you live a longer youth and then face a longer low quality life, either you want that longer low quality life more than you let on, or you cut it short.
I think that as people live longer they will have less children as a result, simply because the inner need to procreate and keep humanity alive will die down. We see this in the differences between the first world and third world countries where mortality rates have a significant delta. For instance, In Africa they tend to have more children on average than they do in Europe.
Are you suggesting that I'd be better if the technology is not available to anyone lest some people live longer than others? I am pretty sure that in the beginning the new technologies will be accessible only to the people who can spare some cash, but I am also pretty sure that the cost will go down, as it has for any other technology.
No I'm suggesting that society as a whole should be part of the conversation about not only seeking immortality but also how much one can benefit from such wonderful breakthroughs. I would love to see people I love live forever. But there are ethical issues around the industry that we all need to discuss.
What does making the society part of the conversation mean exactly? If a private company develops a technology for immortality and then chooses to charge $1million/year for it thus excluding 99.999% people what does the society has to say about that? Should it force the company to lower the price? Should it bar the technology?
> Accelerate existence by whatever means necessary; availability will follow.
This is not demonstrated at all. Increasing existence and production of food hasn't tackled food insecurity and hunger, for example. That something exists, even if cheaply, does not mean it will become accessible.
> Increasing existence and production of food hasn't tackled food insecurity and hunger, for example.
Um... what about the millions of lives saved by the green revolution and agricultural advances? Hunger hasn't been eliminated, but technology has increased the carrying capacity of the earth by a few billion.
Re. technological availability: see the falling price of mobile phones, personal computers, Internet connections.
> I agree, but existence is so much more important than availability at this point in history.
You assume that those in power will want to make more like them and I think that is mostly unlikely. Nothing attracts the powerful like an insurmountable advantage. Being able to outwait your potential competition at that scale is powerful and I have a hard time seeing powerful people wanting to make their potential competitors as powerful.
These arguments make no sense. Poor / lower class people become wealthy all the time, disruption happens. The wealthy / immortal class will grow, maybe slowly maybe quickly. But it will grow. That means the poor / short lived class will shrink by necessity (or the red herring overpopulation argument). Over time, more and more of the population will become well off and/or immortal, and the great thing is they won't die.
If you think we'll get to a point where nobody can disrupt the anti-aging industry ever, and nobody will be able to make it cheaper, well, you're pretty pessimistic. Because the one constant we seem to see is (immortal) corporations being disrupted by little startups. Corporations right now live forever and yet they don't stay in power forever. The same will go with this.
> Poor / lower class people become wealthy all the time, disruption happens.
I don't see why you'd say this. Economic mobility in the developed world is steadily shrinking. I don't see that shrink getting better if the rich can play on the time scale of centuries. Or if the corporations they own can do so.
As has been noted numerous times, poverty means you have to think "tomorrow" rather than "a month from now" or "a year from now". When you can think "eight decades from now" or even "two centuries from now", you are in an incredibly powerful position and I am extremely skeptical that people with that advantage will give it up for the rest of us.
> I fear a future where "all men are created equal", but only some can afford to become immortal and others cannot.
That future is now. We already have first-world countries with medical technology that allows its citizens to live an average lifespan much longer than those in countries where such tech is unavailable. Not to mention the everyday technologies that indirectly extend "effective" lifespan -- every hour not spent gathering cooking fuel, preparing food, washing clothes, etc. is an hour you can spend "living". Even in said first-world countries, there is a dichotomy: those who are rich & influential enough to take advantage of expensive & cutting-edge medical treatment, and those who are not.
Actual life extension therapies are just the above, writ large. I don't see any difference between this tech and any other "early adopter" tech, which is always expensive and limited in availability. We can only hope that such technology will become cheaper & more widespread and trickle down to the rest of us in time for us to make use of it.
Well they could do a non-profit, a trust, setup labs, or just donate to existing research labs. In a business the goal of profit is not just a thing that leaders should be doing, but a legal responsibility to share holders that can't be ignored.
Indeed, what's the cost going to be for once someone finds a "cure" for cancer? Society should offer a bounty for such a thing, and then scientists / researchers are incentivized more towards the problem, and will be rewarded - as well as their research supporters - if successful.
Yes I agree, and the patrons of those ventures, perhaps all of society, could reap rewards in ways that go beyond a stock portfolio. It's funny that in the press release they mention "moonshot", because that's what we need. All of society puts in and all of society benefits. With measures and controls it could work, just like the moonshot did.
Yup. I imagine you'd be welcome and invited to stay for free, housing included, to many places around the world - if not everywhere. I do think in the future most everyone will have the ability, the benefit to travel anywhere in the world - as an incentive and reward for good behaviour; If you do criminal activity/counter-productive behaviours towards society or individuals, you lose that, etc..
"...coordinated efforts against smallpox went on, and the disease continued to diminish in the wealthy countries. By 1897, smallpox had largely been eliminated from the United States. In Northern Europe a number of countries had eliminated smallpox by 1900, and by 1914, the incidence in most industrialized countries had decreased to comparatively low levels..."
>We eradicated smallpox for everyone, without distinction between rulers and ruled.
Notwithstanding the daughter comment that disproves this, try substituting 'smallpox' for 'cancer'. Cancer treatment is by no means available to everyone, or even the majority, yet it extends lifespans (of good people and dictators alike). Should we not have developed treatments for cancer?
I can't think of any times when people have had their lifespans shortened for fear they would become the elite, and the shorteners were on the right side of history. That sounds more like The Crucible.
The point is they are not potential elite, they are already elite. The fact that they can get hold of the treatment when the majority can not shows they're already placed at the top of society.
Personally I agree with the logic that if we have the choice between 0 and 100,000 people living for ever we pick 100,000 (Even if that 100,000 include such greats as Un and Assad). Having said that If I had the choice between 100,000 living forever and 3 billion people living forever with less private jets in the world I'd pick the later. Perhaps I'm cynical but if we do indeed get this tech I'm a lot less confident about my values being satisfied in the second instance than the first.
French Revolution versus Red October, Mao's Cultural Revolution, gulags and concentration camps for every communist country. In 90% of these "elite trimmings" society is pushed back decades at least. Unruly mobs do not move the world forward.
They may not move their country forward, that doesn't mean they don't move the world forward. Say what you will about the French revolution's effect on France but it greatly influenced the spread of democracies and republics world wise. Similarly the presence of socialism(in the production owned by the people sense) hugely encouraged improvements in working conditions in countries that feared similar upheaval and loss of property.
But I wouldn't argue with you that the majority of these 'elite trimmings' set the society back. The question is after the set back does it move forward faster than it was or in a better direction (Often the answer to this would be hugely reliant on your personal values).
And lo and behold! When we fail to implement estate taxes, compounding investments ensure that the bloodlines of the well-off and long-lived become the rich elite!
Remember, this is a scenario where we're talking about 1% of the population getting life-extension while everyone else remains stuck with 80-120 years of maximum lifespan. Those indefinite folks are going to get very wealthy very quickly (as in, within one century), because they can afford to wait for long-term investments to pay off in a way nobody else can.
> When we fail to implement estate taxes, compounding investments ensure that the bloodlines of the well-off and long-lived become the rich elite!
Right, so compound interest isn't magic as long as you have taxes (and, actually, compound interest per se is rarely a problem when you have taxable interest, appreciation of capital assets that works like interest but isn't is the problem -- and it comes about specifically because of the choice to give tax-favored status to long-term capital gains.) Estate taxes are a mechanism that works to mitigate the problems caused by favoring capital income when death is a reliable periodic effect, but you could acheive much the same effect in a progressive income tax system, without sensitivity the frequency of death, by simply not giving long-term capital gains a tax-favored status, and treating income as income, especially if you add more upper-range marginal tax brackets for super-high-end incomes.
Yes, that's my point. Capitalism is bad, not increased lifespan.
However, given a capitalistic or otherwise zero-sum/proprietarian social system, I cannot support inegalitarian life extension as moral. You need a broadly egalitarian society and broadly egalitarian life-extension.
As long as we have social systems designed to maximize strife and toil, we should be working to destroy those social systems and replace them with systems for creating peace and happiness, yes.
Medicine and life extension as a public service is great. As a private luxury of the rich it's abominable.
Think about the implied statement of making radical life-extension available to the rich alone! "Whereas I will live to 160, you will only live to 80. Because I can afford these treatments, it means my life has double the moral worth of your life."
If you honestly believe that moral worth and financial net worth are two different things, you cannot support setting lifespan in accordance with money. Period.
its not about whether elite is saved or not ... its about whether you're healthy or not ....
Imagine you have two groups of people: Group A and Group B. Group A is living longer but unhealthy and Group B is living shorter but extremely healthy , which one do you pick - I rather pick Group B ... dont know whether Calico will be about living longer or living healthier - its not a easy thing to crack but I hope they succeed ...
Those things are available to the vast majority of the planet. Clean water, for example, is available to seven of every eight humans. In the places those things aren't available, you'll usually find a corrupt government getting in the way. As you said, these aren't expensive problems to solve, so there's no intrinsic reason they should be limited to the elite.
26% don't have plumbing (e.g., water they can get from pipes in their house or yard) 
23% don't have electricity 
14% lack access to clean water 
14% lack access to health care 
13% suffer from chronic undernourishment 
11% can't read 
14% is about one billion people. Maybe you look at that and think, hey, 86%, doing pretty good! But if this many people can't even get access to even the most basic of technologies today, what makes you think most people, even people in the developed world, will have access to whatever mythical mortality-defying technology people are speculating about here? It's all such speculation as to what they are doing, the question is practically not worth answering. But if extreme life-lengthening technologies are truly on the table, the potential for an Elysium-like scenario should be taken seriously.
(Also, point of clarification: what do you mean by "intrinsic reason"? Can you give an example of an intrinsic reason something would be limited to the elite?)
Keep in mind when discussing internet access that effectively for the general public, the internet has only been with us for 20 years. And that was just the birth of its public mindshare - significant penetration would still take quite a few years yet in developed countries.
It also doesn't really fit in with the rest of the stats you're presenting - people can and do live quite luxurious lives without using the internet, but not so for the other items.
Yes, I wasn't trying to imply Internet access is essential, although it is such a powerful technology that lacking access to it generally sets you back a lot in the global rat race. Rather, I was trying to give a sense of how distribution of technologies progresses. It would have been helpful to have a few more data points but I couldn't think of good examples. (Especially in the higher ends -- what powerful technology do the rich have now that the rest don't? Maybe travel via airplane?)
"Can you give an example of an intrinsic reason something would be limited to the elite?"
Sanitation and plumbing are cheap and easy if a government isn't corrupt. We're not waiting on advances in technology to make those things easy to provide to the world, so it seems tangential to anything Google could do.
This isn't a serious objection and this line of thinking is fundamentally flawed. You could say the exact same about the internet or the automobile or the MRI. It only solves the problem of "the elite".
Unfortunately this is most of the politics that drives health care in the USA. Most people in the US don't even get close to old age because they don't have access to adequate healthcare.
Bill Gates is saving thousands of lives by trying to wipe out diseases that generally affect poor people for very little money per life saved.
While in the US millions is spent per person to provide longer lives for a few people.
Affording proper care is definitely a problem, but the diseases of aging are the greatest causes of death globally, not infectious diseases or other health problems . Taking care of diseases like malaria is unquestionably a noble and important task, but if we're talking about the world as a whole, aging is actually the greatest burden on health right now. Cardiovascular problems in particular are a serious problem worldwide .
I worked for a startup in the electronic medical records space. Data interchange.
We had various interactions with both the Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault teams. They were both making patient facing apps, ours was physician (and staff) facing.
We had a patient facing app, because all the hospitals thought it'd drive admissions.
But at the time no doctor would trust patient's data.
To the best of my knowledge, that hasn't changed (five years on).
The "quantified self" movement may change the perception of patient gathered data. When data collection is automatic, standardized. More importantly, when doctors are doing it for themselves, so are familiar with the tools and culture.
So, in short, Google Health and MS HealthVault were just wishful thinking. There was no "there" there.
> This is not about making the world a better place. This about allowing the elite that can afford it to live forever.
You're probably right. But any advantages in medicine eventually will boost available level of tools to all. Well it worked as this so far. Elite is just able to get the best much earlier - but that doesn't mean we should stop all scientific progress and reset to the level of medicine everybody can get.
There are a lot of ethical arguments happening in this thread, and I'm concerned that most of them are missing the point. They tend to center on the idea that these technologies will help the wealthy, while leaving most of the world to suffer.
I'd love to see Google work on initiatives to give the world's poor access to clean water and basic healthcare. Those are awesome causes -- maybe the world's most awesome. But if we categorize pressing third-world health issues as the World's Most Awesome Cause, well, aren't age-related diseases the World's Second Most Awesome Cause?
We should for sure allocate more resources to the World's Most Awesome Cause. But why are people attacking funding for the World's Second Most Awesome Cause? Convince people not to buy top-tier smartphones, or expensive cars, or big houses, and donate to charity instead. But don't try to convince people to die of heart disease. Even if this new Google initiative isn't the absolutely most optimal way to spend money to serve humanity, it's pretty high up on the list.
Please remember that about two-thirds of all deaths world-wide are caused by aging . It isn't just the elite who are getting heart attacks, and long-term, I'd be shocked if it were only the elite who were receiving effective treatments to prevent them.
I'd rather see a high quality of life for everyone on earth for 80 years than 150+ year life spans for the first world. Which will just further increase the footprint of the rich and divert resources from the poor.
Not to mention, it's a more attainable goal. It doesn't help much to keep the body going for 50 more years if you can't also keep the brain going. I believe these are very different problems. If you can somehow solve both, it doesn't help if you can't feed and house all these people.
If he's right, the only way you could keep people perfectly healthy up to age 80 without them living much longer would be to execute on his plan (or a similar one), and then kill people once they got old enough.
Google believes in capitalism. They will offer goods and services to people who can afford them, and they will also work to make their products more accessible to those with limited resources.
I personally believe Android will have enormous long-lasting positive impacts on the rest of the world. A $25 smartphone ... A $10 smartphone... A $5 smartphone... Giving access to instant communication, and huge amounts of information, will in the long run dramatically improve human lives. My personal opinion.
I also disagree with the parent poster but you absolutely do not either "believe in capitalism, or you don't".
The only pure capitalist societies are anarchist hellholes. Among nice societies, capitalism is implemented all sorts of different ways with the things capitalism does poorly papered over in different ways.
 law enforcement, basic standard of living for all, various economic regulations to address market failures, e.g. I can't legally plug in a transmitter at 100MHz and 1000 watts and black out WNBC in my neighborhood, and can't sell capitalist let-the-market-decide food out of a roach den
I didn't intend my first statement to be absolutist, and I do not believe I need to resort to some extreme form of free market society, in order to have my vision of reality work.
gdulli was criticizing a corporation for providing goods and services that a relative minority of the wealthy can provide.
I assert that that criticism is only valid, if you have fundamental problems with capitalism itself. The way I stated that was, "you either believe in capitalism, or you don't." I am not aware of a better way to state that. It's a matter of faith / belief / an assumption. If you share in that view, you can correctly engage in one set of logical discussion. If you do not share in that view, you can only engage in another set of logical discussions. Watching someone criticize a corporation for providing luxury goods is ample evidence that they're having the wrong kind of discussion. Their first necessary step would be to convince me that we should abandon capitalism. Period. There's no other first move in that game.
Well, if we're being honest, this isn't particularly capitalist of Google. It's an idealist, good-intentions-and-ego-driven play. Yes, they want to capture some of the value that they eventually might create but they are not doing it primarily for money.
From that perspective it's hard to describe exactly what I'm thinking...
If you lean towards "capitalism and free markets are good," then I really don't think you have a leg to stand on, in criticizing a corporation for offering luxury services.
If you lean towards, "Universal healthcare, and this is health care, so therefore the government should have a monopoly on it, except this should be way down low on the list of priorities," then it's a completely different conversation.
> I'd rather see a high quality of life for everyone on earth for 80 years than 150+ year life spans for the first world.
They aren't mutually exclusive goals; working on the social/political/distributional problems that prevent most people from having a high quality of life is not exclusive with working on the health technology problems that mean that no one is living 150+ years.
And I'd rather see a high quality of life for everyone on Earth for 150+ year life spans than either of your options.
>You are assuming resources are limited, but they are infinite. Making the assumption the Universe is infinite.
Silliest thing I've read all day. There are huge costs associated with extracting resources here on earth, let alone from the stars. And even if "the universe" is infinite, no new matter is being generated.
Interesting is that Art Levinson will remain Chairman at Apple. Apparently the two giants are working together here.
> Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple, 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.”
I think there's a pretty big misconception about Silicon Valley executives hating each other. (My guess is this comes from our media-driven obsession with the good vs. evil narrative.) In reality, a lot of these companies aren't that different, and the skills+personalities+struggles of CEOs are actually remarkably similar.
They might have different opinions or frustration with the competition, but most of what they focus on is not letting the company die from the inside. i.e: AOL/Palm/HP/Netscape couldn't innovate and imploded.
Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board up until the day shareholders (implicitly) deemed it to be a conflict of interest. I'm sure he was a great asset for Apple learning the importance of internet services. It's a shame that short-sighted investors are too captivated by competition to realize how cooperative Silicon Valley really is. There are only a handful of situations in tech where crushing your competition is actually a positive strategic move.
An interesting trend is that we're now no longer relying on governments to pursue big, hairy, audacious goals. Governments and also capital markets nowadays seem unable to pursue any really long-term projects at all.
Instead, all the future-advancing progress seems to be made by independently rich individuals; and also not by the "aristocratic-rich" families, but by noveau riche upstarts such as Brin, Musk and others. What does it say about our current, traditional institutions if they seem unable to do that? Are they broken, and can they be fixed somehow?
In the depths of the Great Stagnation, all significant technological progress occurs due to ascended post-exit Silicon Valley moguls personally funding it (with money they own or fully control) out of the goodness of their own hearts. Venture capitalists can't see how to flip it in 3 years and science bureaucrats can only give money to other bureaucrats.
There might be a trend, yes, but we are still almost entirely relying on government funded research. So much that it will stay this way for a very long time. Have you compared say the US health care budget with say the funding of the Gates foundation.
Our research institutions are not broken. They are actively defunded, disabled, and handcuffed by an elite class who would rather return to the days of aristocratic decision-making than subject themselves to democracy.
Wow! This reminds me of a comment I saw on HN, or maybe it was a blog post about either Google's Project Loon, or Google Glass. I can't seem to find a link or the actual author, but they essentially said:
"What I care about is that Google has become a machine that turns advertising dollars into fundamentally groundbreaking new projects like Google Glass, Project Loon, and self-driving cars. They’re not just trying to make money: they’re trying to use that money on far-fetched moon-shot projects with the chance to be genuinely revolutionary. I admire that."
Now they are investing in a new realm where they are "excited about tackling aging and illness." Google's ambition, and vision is inspiring! Hopefully we see some innovation in this sector from this investment.
from the Time article, although they don't say it explicitly i get the impression that they're going to run it essentially like a charity - just dump money on it, and not expect any financial return.
To what extent is this guided by the self-interest of aging tech darling CEOs (Larry Page must be in his 40s by now)? As a young person I tend to think "some of these health issues ought to be solved problems by the time I'm older." But I don't have the kind of capital to spend on it that companies like Google, or persons like Larry Page, do.
Regardless of motivation, I'm happy to see investment in this domain.
How many diseases have we cured in the past 20 years? The past 40 years? Medical advances are really, really slow. As for the "self-interest" question (that's why you created a throw away account?), I'm sure as you get a little older, and you notice people dying who are close to your age, you might be wish that people took an interest in being self-serving a couple decades earlier.
Steve Jobs, for example, had billions of dollars, had his genome sequenced, and probably tried very hard not to die so young. I bet if he had known 10 years earlier that he was going to die from pancreatic cancer, some of that money would have gone into searching for a cure.
Larry Page might live a perfectly healthy life, die in his sleep at 101, out living most of us. However, if you've got that kind of money and influence, why not buy some real insurance.
For example, polio was cured less than 60 years ago. We know much more about the effects of radiation (sunscreen, anyone?) than we did 40 years ago. Genome sequencing is becoming slightly more affordable (than even 10 years ago) due to tech advances; we can predict hereditary disease in some instances (BRCA mutations, etc).
Steve Jobs is actually a terrible example. To quote wikipedia, "Despite his diagnosis, Jobs resisted his doctors' recommendations for medical intervention for nine months, instead consuming a psuedo-medicine diet in an attempt to thwart the disease." Pseudo is Greek for "false." And if you want cancer solved by the time you get it, you probably have to pony up the money before your diagnosis.
I'm not disagreeing that medical advances are relatively slow, but on the scale of human life, Page has probably at least another 40 years of advances left to see. And that's a lot.
Great, you pulled out one disease in the past 60 years. Really slow progress. In the next 40, we should see a few more advances, but if we really want to move the needle, we need to be more aggressive.
9 months is not much time. If Steve were just an average person, his condition probably wouldn't have been discovered as early as it was. He simply squandered the little extra time that he had. There's no guarantee that he it wouldn't have killed him in the long run even if he had gone under the knife earlier. Pancreatic cancer, in general, is pretty deadly: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreaticcancer/detailedguide/...
> How many diseases have we cured in the past 20 years? The past 40 years? Medical advances are really, really slow.
It would be really interesting if we began noticing a medical analogue to Moore's Law in the next few decades (though I don't know how you'd measure it). Supposing conservatively that medicine is 100x better in 2013 than in 1900, one might expect medical knowledge to double between now and 2030. The size of the advances in computing from 1900-40 and 1940-80 differ by several orders of magnitude.
Of course I don't think we have the data to assign a model right now so this might be BS.
Both Page and Brin turned 40 this year. There's also Brin's heightened risk of Parkinson's. His mother has it, and according to Wikipedia "both he and his mother possess a mutation of the LRRK2 gene (G2019S) that puts the likelihood of his developing Parkinson's in later years between 20 and 80%". He's donated to Parkinson's research in the past, and this investment is certainly along the same lines.
I have always been interested on life-extension with a focus on healthy life. My background is mainly engineering (computer science, mechanical engineering) with focus on machine learning and statistics.
I was thinking on taking some graduate program that would help the transition in this kind of companies; does anybody knows a university/program that would help? I have checked some graduate bioinformatics, but I am not sure what would be more helpful in the long term.
In the current environment, if you already have an engineering undergrad, an MBA would do you best. I am not a fan of the programs, but the degree will open doors that are mostly shut for pure engineers.
In many areas and locals, not necessarily Silicon Valley, a pure engineering man is seen as a lackey. An engineer with business cred is considered valuable, just my experience.
Thanks for your answer! I guess I would have to be more precise :)
My intent is to have a technical role in the space, not a management one. I can imagine how most of the problems facing require machine learning and statistics, so I am more interested on how to complement these skills to be able to transition into an space that fascinates me.
Depends. In a mid-sized company, they expect senior/VP technical lead to have something like an MBA. In a small start-up, founders are generally required to be able to navigate both sides a bit. I would really consider it.
You can learn what you want on the technical side outside of college. Now, if you want to be in a research institution or academia, you don't need the MBA, but then there is the whole can of worms of how to gain influence enough to do the research you want.
Healthcare is based on science, and science requires data processing to see the correlations. We'd probably be able to spot a lot more common causes of diseases if people weren't so guarded with their medical history. This doesn't really have anything to do with government, it has to do with solving problems.
The US already has HIPAA, so I don't get the point. This just seems like a weak attempt to say something negative about Google's announcement.
Medical history is a double-edged sword in the US. Why do you think people are so reluctant to share it when they are being judged, charged more, charged less, etc. depending on it?
If this weren't the case, some Americans wouldn't have a problem with 'divulging' their medical history.
Health care is based on science, you're right, but there are factors that influence what is researched and where funds go. Plus, putting it in practice or implementing it according to the right policy; this is another issue.
Also, I think you're undermining the magnitude of lobbying.
But Google is a huge company, with a lot of power and capital. So, like I said in response to someone else, I am very interested in the details of Calico.
Well, the way to solve the charging issue is to have universal healthcare for all in which no one can be denied care. Given that, I don't see why I should care why anyone know my cholesterol or blood pressure.
And where is Google advocating for cuts in public science spending, or lobbying to get regulations reduced on harm-causing environmental agents? This is a non-sequitur with respect to Calico.
Part of big data is transparency, removing ignorance. We overspend on healthcare and treatments that don't work, precisely because we haven't crunched the numbers and informed the public and based policies based those insights. Obamacare took a lot a flack over this ("death panels!!"), but if you want to talk about optimizing health, then using computer science to evaluate medical data to target spending at stuff that works and extends life and well-being the most is a huge win.
Standing in the way of that is conspiracy nuts who obsess over the privacy of their vital fluids and that somehow, scientists recommending that your favorite treatment is nothing more than a very expensive placebo is a death panel.
In a perfect world, no one could be denied healthcare, and everyone's medical records (anonymized) and history would be open to all scientists in the world for exploring the connections between disease.
I'd certainly like to know that 10,000 other people, who have the same gene X as me, who also developed symptom Y after behavior Z, and that scientists could also make that connection and begin to figure out how to target treatments, rather than counting on some hope that some study will get the right participants with the right set of histories to figure this out.
Am I the only one seeing the obvious connection between this, Google's general business model and technologies and the recruitment of Ray Kurzweil as Director of Engineering? If and when we realize the singularity is a real possibility, Google will have the platform ready. For better or worse.
Apparently your internet browsing data is not enough, Google also wants your medical records and DNA.
Seriously though, I wouldn't trust any company connected with Google for 'health and well being'. Their total disregard for privacy would imply they are not working in my best interest for health either.
To the contrary, they have utter regard for your privacy. They advocate for governments to have more respect for your privacy, as well.
Alfred knows everything about Bruce Wayne. Google is Alfred, except he doesn't even take a salary - he wants to show you advertising that you would think is high quality, and he promises to never sell your personal information to the advertisers. Pretty damned good deal, if you ask me.
Oh yeah, then why didn't they shut-down Gmail like the folks at Lavabit did? Instead of doing the right thing, Google let themselves become compromised in secret - only for us to find out after someone was willing to put their life on the line to leak this information.
I will never be able to convince you that Google was not complicit in the acts the government took that Edward Snowden has exposed, and you will never convince me they were complicit.
There is literally no evidence anyone could provide you, that would make you change your opinion.
And I can't claim that I'm much different, if I'm honest, unless Google execs admit to it. Or unless journalists discover examples of prosecutors admitting evidence in some court, to convict someone, based on data that could only have been acquired with Google being complicit.
You seem to forget that Google pulled out of China, rather than comply. How much money did they leave on the table, there?
You're exaggerating your claims and expectations to an extreme degree. For one, Snowden put his life on the line to leak a hell of a lot more than email spygate. Secondly, why didn't Google shut down Gmail? Is that a serious question? Because it quite obviously would've done far more harm than good, to citizens of the world and to Google.
You should calm down a bit and try to adopt more reasonable stances if you actually hope to make a difference.
> Oh yeah, then why didn't they shut-down Gmail like the folks at Lavabit did?
> We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google if we have a good-faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary to:
> meet any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request.
Lavabit's policy said:
> [...] we will not surrender any private information without a court order; [...].
... so I guess they kind of indicated that they could be convinced to share private information, although they didn't do it in the form of a positive assertion like Google.
Not necessarily opposite approaches. If they have all the data on everything I've ever purchased to eat (they probably do...) then they've probably got it on everyone and it would be interesting to produce the definitive statistical analysis of exactly how much corn syrup you have to drink over a lifetime to achieve a 50% chance of diabetes.
The medical community has shown itself time and again to accept treatments with marginal advatnages and meciine with dubous wholistic heatlh effects (trading stroke for cancer). At the end of the day, pharmacueticals are not know for integrity.
Try again. There is still zero evidence Google did anything other than comply with requests for individually reviewed pieces of data, and did not engineer anything to permit firehose dragnets.
If the NSA is getting any kind of dragnet data, most likely it is via external network taps, intercepting non-encrypted SMTP traffic, or non-encrypted intra-datacenter fiber traffic the same way they tapped 'dark fiber' undersea cables of the Soviet Union during Venona.
Google cares very much for user privacy, it is part of the corporate culture.
They're just looking for customers to stick around longer. It's a morbid reality, but if death could be prolonged so they could find new ways to advertise and find new products for the elderly that have prolonged their life, then that would make sense. They could potentially be creating a whole new market.
It could take 20-30 years for their research and development to catch on, but I'd imagine some of Google's biggest followers/clients are in their 20's, 30's, 40's.
They wouldn't have launched this company if there was no "end-game" or no ultimate goal, and retaining customers indefinitely seems like the ultimate goal for any company.
I'm sceptical, since Google Health never quite caught on. There's room for improvement, certainly, but the regulatory requirements for mixing health and tech, and the externalities of dealing with vendors' proprietary formats will make this challenging at best.
Even if it's more like Thalmic Labs or 23andMe, I'm worried about whether fundamental infrastructure (or a leap-frogging equivalent, like cell phones) will be widespread enough for this sort of research/work to be useful to the people who need it most.
Like, there are feel-good stories like Dean Kamen's Slingshot (IIRC, he partnered with Coca-Cola to distribute the things) but I have absolutely no idea how well such things work in the field and the papers written about things like the Roundabout PlayPump are pretty damning.
Wonder if this company is part of the reason for deciding to shutter Google Health? People might've been mighty upset if Google took their health records and then opened a website like this. Not saying that they still didn't benefit from the information dump
Not surprised in the least that Page referenced Bill Marris for "bringing this idea to life." Marris has been pivotal in taking Google beyond its traditional role with this and Google Ventures. He has recognized and successfully utilized Google's resources to push Google to its full potential and reshape what Google stands for. Very excited to see what happens with Calico and Marris' next achievements.
Disclaimer: I do not hate Google; I use their search and email daily.
I hate to be this guy, but...
> OK so you’re probably thinking wow! That’s a lot different from what Google does today.
Not really. Google is in a business of selling ads. In addition, they do make money on selling/sharing/exchanging information, mostly indirectly.
> But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives.
.. and shareholders did not care about that. If you own shares of a hospital chain then you may care. But when you hold shares of Subway, Coca-Cola or Google, in those particular markets you care less about people's lives. You care about bottom line.
> So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses.
We are not surprised. But since you sun-setting pretty good, useful projects like Google Reader, and you taking Jobs advice of "stay focus on only couple [most profitable] projects at the time", we ask: "where is the catch and how you gonna make money _otherwise_ than selling info or exchanging it?"
Just recently I have cancelled my 23andme kit (they gave me some hardtime though and never fully recovered the fee (taking legal action is simply not worth the $)), because after doing some research I found it that 23&me owner is family with Brin. There is no chance in this world you will tell me Google will not try to make money off of my DNA this or another way)
Obligatory and irrelevant Google Reader reference. Check. Right, the world would be better off if Google spent more time investing in yet more social sharing web app features, and not on reducing high way fatalities or increasing health.
To the people who are saying that this will only be for the rich: I would like to point out that we already spend over $500 billion on Medicare. In other words we already spend 10 times Google's yearly revenue, half-assedly patching up the symptoms of the disease that every single human is already afflicted with, and we do it for everyone. If they actually solve this problem, it won't go only to rich people, because of the amount of money that buying it for everyone will save everyone.
(Yes, some problems might come in if they invent something that can keep you young if you start at 30, but doesn't do anything if you start at 65, however the long term benefit would still be amazing and maybe make the Republicans' dream of getting rid of Medicare finally come true...)
To the people who say death is natural: Many, many natural things are bad (high child mortality, smallpox, etc.) and many artificial things are good (antibiotics, vaccines, the computer letting you read this comment.) Naturalistic Fallacy.
To the people who say death is good: No it's not. My parents had me when they were older. Now my dad has a kind of cancer that is associated with aging (multiple myeloma.) He was diagnosed my first year of college (luckily he has been doing rather well considering for five years now.) I get to look forward to loosing him before I turn 30. I don't care why you think death is great because of its benefit to society; I don't want to loose my dad. Also, my kids will almost certainly never know their grandfather, just like I never knew mine (He died of the same kind of cancer a few months before I was born,) which is sad. You are severely underestimating the value of not having to watch people you care about shrivel up before your eyes and be irrevocably destroyed, knowing that there is nothing you can do to stop it.
A potential side-effect to this company would be googles technology expertise married to the biotech/pharma? world. We often hear that this drug cost billions to manufacture and therefore we need to recoup our costs through it's sales. Perhaps we see less expensive drugs as a result during this journey. That would be a huge win IMO.
> Call me crazy here guys, but what exactly will Calico produce/make/do/etc?
Presumably, its going to do research (probably secondary with an aim to commercialization, rather than basic research) on health problems, particularly on aging and aging-related diseases.
> The top comment makes me feel like I'm missing a magical paragraph in the OP that details their cure for death, ugliness and stupidity.
Its not a startup looking for venture capital that needs to demonstrate an MVP to attract investors in the near term, its a project that's already funded by Google as a small (by comparison to Google's available resources), effort. Efforts like that don't need to have a product on day one, they need a mission.
Someone should write a short story (Doctorow, perhaps?) of a supercentenarian baby-boomer who is woken from a coma to suddenly find himself unwillingly young again, and explore the moral ramifications.
human subject a892857 identified with probability to get hit by bus -> starting assisnation drone to increase efficiency. Art Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Execution Officer.
The fact they open Calic makes me hate them. They could have gone in every sector, but not in the one that is there to actually improve our life. They will algorithmically help kill much more people efficiently. Money powers the healthchare system.
I’m excited to announce Calico, a new company that will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases. Art Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer.
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. 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.
Art and I are excited about tackling aging and illness. These issues affect us all—from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families. And while this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales with the right goals and the right people.
Our press release has a few more details though it’s still very early days so there’s not much more to share yet. Of course when Art has something more substantial to communicate (and that will likely take time), he’ll provide an update. Finally, thanks to Bill Maris for helping bring this idea to life and getting Art involved, and to Sergey Brin for consistently supporting 10X thinking like this. It’s hard for many companies to make long term investments. So I’m tremendously excited about the innovative new way we’re funding this project. Now for the hard work!
Yikes, that's a little harsh. I don't really care about any of the products they've shut down, it was just a tongue-in-cheek observation that I find curious. I use Google search, calendar & gmail. If they shut those down, I'd be sad. Otherwise I don't really care much.
if you cared as little as you are pretending to, you wouldn't feel a need to whine about it. every single article relating to anything google, there's a bunch of you down at the bottom of the comments section whining about google shutting down failing products. get over it, or at least shut up about it. it's not funny, it's just pathetic. google is a company, they shut down products when they aren't working out. that's how companies work.
Unless you're about 95 years old today, GOOG will probably shutter the service before you die.
They already went thru one iteration of electronic medical record, which is too bad because it sounded interesting but the first time I heard about it was on a READER feed as it was being shutdown. Before READER shut down of course.
Typical of the billionaires. Is the aging funding for society or there own motality. Ellison does stuff like this. I didn't read the article fully but on the surface they would be better doing as Gates is doing, funding suffering. Funding their own future to me is not very honorable and respectful.
This is a great first step. But realistically they can only move so fast with FDA regulation increasing your iteration cycle time on therapies to 10 years. Our biomedical regulatory regime is extremely risk averse.
If we had a regime where anyone could voluntarily place any therapy into their own body, we'd move a lot faster. Yes, a few more people would die in testing. But a lot more lives would be saved by the therapies produced.
Not only would more die in testing, but more would die in everyday use and results would be so mixed you could hardly get any information out of the experiments.
One of my biggest clients is in the medical device industry. From the surface appearance, any company could make a simulacrum of their main products with perhaps 90% cost-cutting... but life-saving devices are not like inferior iPods or graphic designs. It's not just things like a crappy user interface, poorer display quality and periodic crashes interrupting your musical flow you would have to deal with if any New Jack could make medical devices, but infection, worsened health, extraneous visits to doctors, untraceable health conditions, lack of accountability by your doctor and yes, death through everyday use, etc. After hearing conservative cheapskates bitch about wasted expenses of FDA regulation and liberals bitch about "how easy it is to walk around the FDA," I have come to fully doubt both (read: realize how much they're talking out of their ani) and respect the FDA after working in such close vicinity to them.
And anyway, yes anyone can voluntarily place any therapy in your body- you just can't get a corporation to help you with it in the U.S.
The root cause is sociopathic control freaks who think they know best, and want to tell other people what to do. It's the reason why so many victimless crimes are punishable with prison time. You can't dictate morality. Preventing someone from doing whatever they please with their body is what is truly immoral, society just needs to realize that.
> If we had a regime where anyone could voluntarily place any therapy into their own body, we'd move a lot faster. Yes, a few more people would die in testing. But a lot more lives would be saved by the therapies produced.
In the age of patent medicines where you could freely use any kind of "medicine" or treatment this was not true at all. Medicine is not simple to understand or develop and asking the average person to make this evaluation is enabling a system that will take money from people in exchange for making their health worse. The kickstarter model is not appropriate for medicine.
I'd love to see some of these want-to-live-forever transhumanist moneybags actually put some money behind some of these things and move them past the pipe dream phase. I hope this is somehow a step in that direction.
yup. valid cncerns, good comments. bring on some more michael tellinger -ism, then we can have a bit more peace of mind about the aubrey de gray -ism, when it's not part of that capitalist, corporatist, monopolist-wannabe paradigm. could be great tho. (love the comment: rising tide floats all boats)