Google funds Calico to tackle aging

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Senior centers such as On Lok Lifeways may see a boom in clients in future years as Google works on its new venture to extend life. Reaction so far to Google's effort has been both positive and cautious.

Those who work with seniors like to say 85-plus is the new 60, thanks to better nutrition, exercise and health care. Google would like to see more people live longer, and that's the reason why it's going to start Calico.

"I could rustle them up a focus group of people 95 to 100 that I think could contribute a lot. If that is their endeavor, and that is their focus, to increase the quality of life for seniors, who better to talk to than the people they're actually targeting," said Prof. Toby Adelman, Ph.D., a gerontology content expert.

Marybelle Johnson, 88, finds this new Google initiative very unusual. She told us, "Yes it is very unusual, and I think it's wonderful."

Google has named Dr. Arthur Levinson to be Calico's CEO. He is chairman of the board of Genentech and Apple. Levinson is also an investor in Calico.

Google declined an interview and won't answer say how much it will invest or how many people will be hired. However, experts hope Calico will delve into the social and ethical issues of extending life. Such as seniors running out of money and providing more years of assisted living.

"It's unclear whether Google will use its resources on its way to extending life to actually building better quality of life. And if that becomes one of their goals, I think who better than Google and Genentech to bring their resources to work on that," said Prof. Sadhna Diwan, Ph.D.

Diwan is director of San Jose State's Center for Healthy Aging in Multicultural Populations. She raised some concern over privacy as Google mines data about seniors and their health.

In the meantime, Johnson hopes her daily exercise leads to a long life.

Johnson: "I do that for seven minutes."
Louie: "So you must be pretty healthy?"
Johnson: "Well, I have been, yes."
Louie: "And you want to stay that way?"
Johnson: "And I want to stay that way. I certainly do."

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