As big money starts to get behind life extension research, we may be witnessing the dawn of a moon-shot like anti-aging rush. Google is now the 3rd largest corporation in the U.S. When it announces a new venture, it’s likely other big players will take note…and so should we. Google’s new venture, called Calico, will focus on aging research with a goal of extending human life by another 20 to 100 years.
Google no doubt senses big potential in what many still think is a pipe-dream – that is, radical human life span extension. And, it looks like Google has it right in directly going after aging.
The amount of funding on true anti-aging research is minuscule compared to the money put into end-of-life diseases. Most research is going into incrementally helping those with crippling diseases – the so called “last mile of life” phase.
Directly attacking aging is a different tact that, it seems, Google is likely to take as indicated by this Google CEO quote from a Mashable article;
In a TIME profile, Larry Page said that solving individual diseases, even ones as pervasive as cancer, would not increase life expectancy by much. To reframe, cancer is the symptom; the true disease is aging itself. As we age and our cells wear down, it causes other old-age diseases.
Getting into the longevity business may seem a counter-intuitive move for Google, but with the immense store of data, and experience in “moon-shot” type research, it will not be surprising to me if Google is able to come up with some important breakthroughs.
Later in the same Mashable article, the question of who will pay for the costs of anti-aging therapies comes up – will it just be for the rich?
It is possible individuals will not need to cover costs of anti-aging treatments themselves? Much like health care today, it makes for a convincing job perk.
De Grey expects these solutions to be paid for by neither the individual or the employer, but rather, the government. Between social security and Medicaid, the government spends billions on treatment for old-age illnesses and providing for the aging population. Perhaps a product that slows aging will be seen as preventative care — over time, it may prove cheaper and could save government money down the road.
Indeed, the huge “Longevity Dividend” of helping people lead healthier and longer-productive lives is, according to author Alex Zhavoronkov, perhaps the only way to avert a global financial crisis set off by the approaching tsunami of health care costs of an aging global population. However, I think that, initially, effective anti-aging therapies will cost out of pocket, and quite likely will require travel to countries with shorter regulatory time-lines from discovery to clinic. It is only “over time” that it would possibly be funded by governments.
In any case, my view is that Google’s entry means that radical healthy life extension is much more likely in the life-experience of today’s 40-65ish year old. The implications of this are what the RetirementSingularity blog is all about.
May you live long, live well, and prosper!
via Google Wants You to Live 170 Years – Mashable