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January 24, 2014

By Gary A. Puckrein, PhD


From The Democratization Of Health Care Series

Posted November 11, 2013 | Updated January 23, 2014

By Gary A. Puckrein

Published On The Huffington Post

Google has announced another moon-shot project: Calico — setting a course to solve the riddles of aging and death. Whether Calico succeeds in its quest or not, it has ushered in a new era that may profoundly alter our political, social, and cultural priorities. Google and its competitors (including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft) have already helped to reshape human interaction in the Information Age by creating a vast international communications network that has become essential to many of our daily activities. The Calico announcement marks the transition to a new, and even more transformative, age.

Google is now shining a light on an obscure aspect of human existence, helping us to think about human sustainability — something difficult to imagine and seldom discussed. The Calico announcement heralds the dawn of an age in which the business community will turn its attention to sustainability.

We are heirs to a fatalistic tradition regarding the human predicament: Immortality is not possible (though many believe that some disembodied state of everlasting life is promised under certain conditions). Nevertheless human life thrives better in some circumstances than in others; certain environments are more dangerous or challenging for human life. Studies are already proliferating that document the impact of environment on well-being and life expectancy. We are paying more attention to determinants (such as water, air, buildings, foods, and medical care) of health and longevity, which leads us to the big question, where Google’s quest will, no doubt, lead: Can the objective reality be managed to sustain human life for an unpredictable period of time?

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