Planet GOOG

Google Wants Us to Live Forever So We Keep Clicking on their Ads

Rage, rage against the dying of the light!
"Faaame, I'm gonna live forever." (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Faaame, I’m gonna live forever.” (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Forget fighting off the Grim Reaper with devout attendance at the local New York Sports Club and endless self-quantifying. That’s not moonshotty enough for Larry Page. Luckily, he’s got the resources of an enormous American corporation at his disposal, which is how Calico, Google’s new anti-aging initiative, came about.

This isn’t like living through the prologue of a singularitarian novel, nope, not at all.

Time scored the exclusive, along with an interview with the spotlight-shy Mr. Page. The company “will focus on health and aging in particular” and be run independently by Apple chairman and former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson. Given the turn medicine is taking toward information science, it’d be a fair bet this will involve crunching numbers in search of the best strategies for life extension.

“Ideally, if you have more people and more resources, you can do more things, get more things solved. We’ve kind of always had that philosophy,” Mr. Page explained the initiative.  And by “things solved,” it sure sounds like he means “death overthrown,” or at least held off a lot longer. (And remember, Google also employs noted death-doubter Ray Kurzweil, and both Sergey Brin and Mr. Levinson are personally involved in the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, another scheme to encourage life extension.)

Hey, living forever means looking at Google ads forever. ROI, baby! Not to mention that being a billionaire often breeds the kind of hubris that makes you think hey, why shouldn’t I be immortal?

For instance, take this quote:

“One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you’d add about three years to people’s average life expectancy,” Page said. “We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that’ll totally change the world. But when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it’s very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think.”

You know, it would be a cool little lifehack to cure cancer, but why not think BIGGER?

Just spitballing here, but maybe devote some dollars to the comparatively mundane cause of developing new antibiotics? It doesn’t take big data to figure that one out–you just have to pay attention from the CDC’s panicky dispatches.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com