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Google Tackles Health

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the as-long-as-you-don't-mind-having-sponsored-cells dept.

Medicine 115

Google has announced the formation of a new company called Calico, which aims to promote health and fight aging. Larry Page said, "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." He expanded upon this in an interview with Time: "I'm not proposing that we spend all of our money on those kinds of speculative things. But we should be spending a commensurate amount with what normal types of companies spend on research and development, and spend it on things that are a little more long-term and a little more ambitious than people normally would. More like moon shots." The new company's CEO will be Arthur Levinson, who is currently the chairman of Apple and biotech company Genentech. Apple CEO Tim Cook 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."

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gonna build a bridge on Jupiter next (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44886959)

millions living today will never die!

Logan's Run (2)

Infestedkudzu (2557914) | about a year ago | (#44886995)

Are they trying to keep everyone 23 years old so they don't cycle through workers in San Fran?

Re:Logan's Run (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44887257)

no...

they're just going to do what 100 other startups are doing. providing health tracking, health tips, tools to communicate with your physician and so forth. Unique ideas that 100000 others have had.

So this Art is actually just one of fscking many.

And in 4 years they're going to buy one of those startups and kill their product to boost their own.

Re:Logan's Run (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44887685)

"they're just going to do what 100 other startups are doing. providing health tracking, health tips, tools to communicate with your physician and so forth. Unique ideas that 100000 others have had."

I don't know if you are thinking small, or just one of those 'optimists' I've read about.

Just think of the value of the sweet, sweet, sweet actuarial data once Google sets to work looking for correlations between medical data (the people with cheap EOLs, the people with expensive ones, anything else that an insurer might want to know), with nonmedical, almost entirely unprotected as a matter of law or fact, consumer web-behavior, interest, location, etc. information!

It'll combine all the most obnoxious aspects of GATTACCA-style eugenic dystopia and targeted advertising!

They care..... sure.... (5, Interesting)

GT66 (2574287) | about a year ago | (#44887001)

HIPAA is getting in Google's way. They can't just "take" people's health information the same as they do general user data. So, in order to acquire what migh actually be considered "private" data, they have chosen to be a health care provider which then gives them direct access to that normally off limits data.

Re:They care..... sure.... (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year ago | (#44887095)

Also, if they can extend lifespans, they can pump ads at us longer.

Re:They care..... sure.... (1)

non0score (890022) | about a year ago | (#44887771)

If they can make me immortal by watching ads, I'd gladly watch ads.

Re:They care..... sure.... (4, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year ago | (#44887813)

If they can make me immortal by watching ads, I'd gladly watch ads.

Well, the ads will make your life SEEM longer.

Re:They care..... sure.... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44887141)

And, I'm sure "improving health" will involve a strong dose of targeted advertising for all the pharmaceuticals that'll make their lives better.

Re:They care..... sure.... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44887165)

If they work, why not?

Are you telling me if they had peer reviewed studies proving these drugs improved your health or extended your useful life you would not take them?

Re:They care..... sure.... (2)

GT66 (2574287) | about a year ago | (#44887299)

"Are you telling me if they had peer reviewed studies proving these drugs improved your health or extended your useful life you would not take them?"
Ah yes, the ultimate offer that cannot be refused.

Re:They care..... sure.... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#44887683)

Are you telling me if they had peer reviewed studies proving these drugs improved your health or extended your useful life you would not take them?

Ah yes, the ultimate offer that cannot be refused.

Hmm... Suicide is illegal in many (most?) places, so if such a drug could be proven to extend one's healthy/useful life - especially if it extended it forever, would taking the drug be required and refusing to take it illegal?

Re:They care..... sure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888015)

Only if you refuse to give it to your dying kid.

Re:They care..... sure.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888525)

Suicide is illegal in many (most?) places

Not these days... anyway, practically speaking it is not an issue -- only in a few places where the families are punished does it really matter, which is basically not the western world. Typically what is still illegal is helping someone else commit suicide. Which I think is fair -- it is much harder for society to really know that there was no coercion, no foul play. What if I write a note saying that when the time comes, I want to commit suicide, and perhaps be assisted... if someone knew such a note exists, would it not be really easy to get murdered?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_legislation

More likely the ethical-dubious but potential thing would be that a cheap drug is found that improves quality of life (or at least a majority of doctors in some regions says so), it gets put in the tap water, like fluoridation. Would that be good or bad?

Re:They care..... sure.... (2)

Forbo (3035827) | about a year ago | (#44887603)

That really depends on the side effects, how much the drugs cost, and my what my quality of life would be with or without them.

Re:They care..... sure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887975)

Shouldn't it be a physician that's deciding whether these drugs are the correct treatment, rather than you responding to targeted advertising?

Re:They care..... sure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887331)

OK. Everyone can stop commenting. That is the answer.

Re:They care..... sure.... (4, Insightful)

geek (5680) | about a year ago | (#44887509)

You think they don't already have health data on people? How many times did you google herpes this year? Did you email your parents/kids telling them about your shingles, bad knees, bad eyesite?

If other people over the age of 50-60 are anything like my parents and parents in law, virtually every conversation revolves around their new ailments. Google has a crap ton of this info in their systems already and are fully prepared to start spamming the latest Cialis ads at every that's every used the word "dick" in an email.

Re:They care..... sure.... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44888177)

I'm sure they've had a good guess, but when you want to target someone for Viagra or Cialis ads, you want a high-percentage cross section of users, not just someone giggle-clicking. The better their data, the more they can charge for the better ad responses they'll get.

Re:They care..... sure.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888305)

Can you avoid defeatist arguments? Why does everything have to be absolute? Just because something isn't complete doesn't mean it isn't worth anything at all! People like you make me sick. You are second such moron I replied to today on Slashdot.

Re:They care..... sure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888467)

Google/NSA will have more and more information and they will sell it to insurance companies for example.

This is not about you and me. (4, Insightful)

Gavin Scott (15916) | about a year ago | (#44888941)

This is not about you and me and our health data, it's about some billionaires who (understandably) don't want to see what happened to Steve Jobs happen to them.

You can sit around and say this is Evil and whatnot, but honestly would any of us here behave any differently if we were in their position?

Note that the president of the new company Calico is Art Levinson, who is currently also Chairman of Genentech and *Apple* so there's a direct Steve Jobs link here and even a quote in the press release from Tim Cook:

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.”

So this is all very science-fiction (both from a technology *and* a social point of view) and it will be fascinating to watch.

From a Science point of view this is really interesting because at the moment there are relatively few sources of funding for basic life-extension research, since much research money comes from the government, and making people live longer is no more politically acceptable than talking about population control. So if you're a fan of applied biological research and specifically life-extension technologies then you should be pretty excited by Google's move here.

Interesting times.

G.

P.S. I for one welcome our new genetically enhanced immortal geek overlords.

Create more people who click on flash ads (1)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about a year ago | (#44887009)

Step 1: Create billion dollar business based on people clicking internet ads Step 2: Make more old people to click on the internet ads (who else clicks on those ads) Step 3: Profit!

the seemingly innocuous genesis of PURE EVIL (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#44887277)

I heard a rumor somewhere, probably on the internet, that step 2 in the next upgrade for cookie clicker [dashnet.org] . don't click that link. oh wait, maybe I should have said that first...

Probably more ads (0)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44887021)

This probably will involve more ads. Google will scan your emails social postings, and purchases for signs of an unhealthy lifestyle and send you appropriate ads. Then they'll offer a free service to hold all your medical records. With ads.

Watch for new Google terms of service which waive HIPPA privacy rules.

This is interesting (4, Interesting)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year ago | (#44887027)

I wish they were more specific though. What is this company going to do? Drugs? Medical devices?

Overall, I like the thought of a major IT company trying its hand in healthcare. For some reason it seems promising.

Re:This is interesting (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887197)

What they should do is focus on improving the quality of medical information available on the internet; it's in line with what Google's core capabilities are and to be honest would be a tremendous help. Google is probably the single biggest contributor to hypochondria in the US today, and I hear (anecdotally from doctors) that doctors waste about 40% of their time with patients dissuading them from incorrect self-diagnoses done through Google searches. My ex-wife was like this, she had a constant discomfort in her stomach; looking it up on Google she was positively convinced she had endomitriosis. She would shop doctors, not going to a single one more than once, and eliminated each one because none of them gave her the diagnosis she wanted because her symptoms were only marginally endomitriosis and were likely due more to the self-inflicted stress she caused herself.

Google has become the source of information for many people in the US and around the world; the next step they should focus on is improving the quality of that information. The medical world is probably an excellent place to start.

Re:This is interesting (4, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#44887493)

1. google streetview cars will get caught stealing the password for grandma's pacemaker.
2. google brainslug implant. back yourself up to the the cloud!
3. google proctological exams -- taking privacy invasion to the next level.
4. you know that 17.9% GDP the US spends inefficiently on healthcare? the good news, google's gonna streamline that to only 9.7%, the bad news, they're taking 1% of the total for their effort.

Re: This is interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887537)

How the hell is #4 bad?

Re: This is interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887641)

Seriously, people are just against capitalism nowadays:
"I will save you a dollar if you let me keep a dime"
"Dirty capitalist pig-dog! How dare you take my hard-earned money!"

Re: This is interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888065)

Because they're often doing it at a loss to drive out of business the smaller companies then raising the price when they have no competition.

Re:This is interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887369)

What they are really after is a nice rent-seeking never-ending stream of money before Amazon beats them to it. All they need to do is patent a few points in the health-technology data flow and they will in effect get a micropayment from each medical/dental/pharm transaction. Brilliant! Do you have any idea how many of these are made daily? Every doctor, dentist, hospital billing, insurance companies, medicare, etc. would be paying. And with all this free medical insurance money on the way no one will balk. One-click insurance billing on the way!

Re:This is interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887681)

Which would, in fact, be better than the way it is today, where a salaried $40K/year person in each doctor's office spends all day doing this task.

Re:This is interesting (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44887417)

Overall, I like the thought of a major IT company trying its hand in healthcare. For some reason it seems promising.

It seems promising to me too. Promising in a similar way to a major interior design firm trying its hand at building nuclear reactors.

Democritization of technology - socialism (1)

surd1618 (1878068) | about a year ago | (#44887037)

In order for socialism to be realized, it appears there must be some organization that takes the longest possible way around it. Perhaps this is just to make sure that all the bushes have been thoroughly whacked.

Another thing good for us, bad for Google (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about a year ago | (#44887059)

I'm glad someone is working on self-driving cars and life extension.

Companies that lose sight of their core competencies wind up failing at both the new business (from cluelessness) and the old business (from distraction).

Re:Another thing good for us, bad for Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888447)

Yeah, I mean, Google should stick to search, and not focus on unsuccessful endeavors like cell phones and web browsers!

Re: Another thing good for us, bad for Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888545)

advertising is Google's core business, not search. phones and web browsers suddenly make a lot of sense when you realize that.

Tackle health or tackel illness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887067)

Nice allusion error in the headline. I know - this English language thing is pretty hard.

how about fighting poverty (4, Insightful)

spune (715782) | about a year ago | (#44887071)

1/5 children in America live in poverty. 2/5 lack adequate nutrition. But let's instead focus on improving the quality of life and longevity of the wealthy!

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year ago | (#44887121)

Yeah, it sounds like Cook is talking about Jobs. Boo Hoo... He was a rich (dick) who died relatively young. Meanwhile the life expectancy of white women who dropped out of high school has dropped several years and children go hungry in the richest nation in history.

Re:how about fighting poverty (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44887219)

That is only because the percentage of dropouts has gone down and now the only ones left doing that are the totally destitute and willfully ignorant. In the past white women could drop out without much impact on their families income or future.

Children going hungry is a totally different problem that should be address with Free breakfast and lunch at schools for all students, not just the ones in poverty.

Re:how about fighting poverty (4, Insightful)

geek (5680) | about a year ago | (#44887695)

Yeah, it sounds like Cook is talking about Jobs. Boo Hoo... He was a rich (dick) who died relatively young.

Regardless of whether Jobs was a dick, he certainly was rich. He didn't die because of a lack of health care, he died because he was fucking stupid and didn't listen to his doctors, and pursued homeopathic bullshit remedies for an aggressive pancreatic cancer.

Jobs would likely be here today running Apple had he not been a fucking idiot hippie with a grudge against modern medicine. In Jobs case, natural selection was not his friend.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44887701)

Perhaps more importantly for an ostensibly scientific enterprise, he didn't even take advantage of standard of care for his condition. First, he dicked around with some alt-med nonsense, then he tried a real doctor, once things had gotten to the point where his outcome was atypically good.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44887145)

Who says this has anything to do with the longevity of the wealthy.

Birth control and sex education would help those figures a lot, but many people oppose that including many people in those situations. How do you think those problems can otherwise be solved? I don't think that is something technology can address. Culture is a tough thing to change.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44887153)

You do realise that poverty will never go away, because 'poverty' is defined as being some level below the mean or median income?

America has been fighting a 'War on Poverty' since the 60s, and it's been a dismal failure for that very reason.

Re:how about fighting poverty (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44887185)

I think you mean a War against the Poor, aka the War on Drugs. A war on poverty would include things like access to healthcare, or equalizing education funds for schools, or job training, or any attempt to make folks other than entertainers famous.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44887249)

I think you mean a War against the Poor, aka the War on Drugs. A war on poverty would include things like access to healthcare, or equalizing education funds for schools, or job training, or any attempt to make folks other than entertainers famous.

You don't know much about American history, do you?

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44887285)

I know quite a bit about it.

We do have not had any interest in dealing with poverty in quite sometime. LBJ was pretty much the last president to even attempt to address the issue. In more recent times shutting down welfare and hunting down non-existent welfare queens has been what we focused on.

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887307)

No, he means the War on poverty [wikipedia.org] . Interestingly, it includes the exact things you stated, and has failed regularly and spectacularly.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44887363)

It was never really attempted. It was a political football that has never been properly funded.

Instead we now jail them.

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887195)

False Dichotomy.

Re:how about fighting poverty (3, Insightful)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year ago | (#44887221)

Fighting poverty would require such things like raising the minimum wage to something you can live off of (this just failed to happen in DC, for people employed by major retailers like Walmart), putting a cap on interest rates by credit cards/loans, increasing education spending, etc.

All these things are impossible to do by anyone as long as companies are allowed to buy what they want from politicians.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44887269)

Fighting poverty would require such things like raising the minimum wage to something you can live off of (this just failed to happen in DC, for people employed by major retailers like Walmart)

So you're going to 'fight poverty' by increasing the labour cost in the stores where poor people shop, so those poor people will have to pay more for the things they buy there, in order to fund those increased wages.

That's why the left can't have nice things.

Re:how about fighting poverty (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44887319)

So explain why increasing the minimum wage actually does help the economy?

Surprise surprise giving money to those who will spend it rather than sit on it helps the economy and the poor. Labor costs in stores is not the primary cost. You could raise the wage to $15/hour and the price of a bigmac to produce would go up a few cents.

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44887355)

So explain why increasing the minimum wage actually does help the economy?

It doesn't. And it certainly doesn't help the poor, who will be replaced by machines if they're not productive enough to justify the increased wages.

Hint: rich people don't 'sit on their money' like Scrooge McDuck in your comic books. They invest it in the businesses that provide jobs for those poor people.

You could raise the wage to $15/hour and the price of a bigmac to produce would go up a few cents.

So why not raise it to $100 and make everyone rich?

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887613)

> Hint: rich people don't 'sit on their money' like Scrooge McDuck in your comic books

No, they buy huge ugly yachts[1], politicians & other bureaucrats[2], and private islands[3].

1) http://allaboutstevejobs.com/pics/stevesplaces/yacht.php
2) http://www.today.com/id/44105072/ns/today-today_news/t/pennsylvania-judge-gets-years-kids-cash-case/#.UjoOG1FDuKk
3) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324798904578529682230185530.html

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887707)

What a huge waste,
1) Since those materials weren't gathered, manufactured, engineered, assembled, or taxed.
2) well we see eye to eye here.
3) That money just disappeared from circulation instead of going to the entity that previously owned it which likely distributed it into the economy for other goods and services or through charity.

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887737)

I'd like to find the other end of the black hole that liberals think that rich people dump their money into and conservatives think the government dumps money into.

Re:how about fighting poverty (2)

mrchew1982 (2569335) | about a year ago | (#44889599)

damn, how i wish that i had mod points!!!

what about cutting down the work week? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44887917)

what about cutting down the work week?

that can help as well as taking health care out of jobs.

Re:how about fighting poverty (2, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#44888043)

rich people don't 'sit on their money' like Scrooge McDuck in your comic books

Actually they kind of do. [wikipedia.org]

So why not raise it [the wage for a fast-food worker] to $100 and make everyone rich?

That's somewhat of a straw-man. The previous poster probably understands that if you raise it too far you'd get wage-price spiral inflation. At least, I hope they do. I think the best way to look at this is that there's an optimal pay for the economy to function well, and that a lot of people think the working class is now earning less than that optimum.

In essence, the upper tier has cornered the dollar market, which would explain why the dollar is falling--whenever somebody corners the market in something, it inevitably results in that something crashing. Just look at the infamous Hunt Brother's episode in silver, and the gold corner in the late 1800s. Rational? No. It's human nature to pile on, get roaring drunk, and then deal with a hangover.

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888679)

> Actually they kind of do. [wikipedia.org]

That source shows that the rich get richer, not that they sit on their money like Scrooge McDuck. As a a matter of fact, within the first few sentences, it states that one reason this happens is: "Those who already hold wealth have the means to invest in new sources and structure, thus creating more wealth, or to otherwise leverage the accumulation of wealth, thus are the beneficiaries of the new wealth." I.e., they don't sit on their money like Scrooge McDuck and, instead, invest it in other business ventures, the stock market in general, etc.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#44888811)

From the article:

Very roughly, the net real rate of return = (nominal risk-free interest rate - Inflation) - (unearned income tax, dividend tax, and other capital-gains taxes). If this rate is positive then owners of capital (George Orwell's "dividend-drawing class") will get richer if they neither produce or consume but simply "leave their money in the bank." It is under this condition (positive net return to capital) that widespread wealth condensation is most likely. (Wealth condensation would be inevitable in the long run in this case, unless the unearned income were consumed more rapidly than it was accumulated.)

Note also that I said, they kind of do. Dividend-earning investments are not exactly the same as having pile of gold coins that just sits there. The cartoons, being just that, were never explicit on Scrooge loaning out the gold in the form of certificates, being willing to surrender some if there were a claim, engaging in fractional reserve lending based on his pool, or using options or other financial engineering to maintain the pool and earn an income with it. He's a Scrooge though, and no dummy; so I bet he was smart enough to not only have the pool but manage it with some sophistication. In the immortal words of Peter Griffen, "Aaaaargh! It's not a liquid, it's a sold mass!". Anyway, I digress... the point, ummm... LOL, bloody Family Guy... what was the point. Oh, I said "kind of". Some rich guy reinvesting the dividends he earns from oil companies isn't actually providing much to the lower tiers, is he? That's the point.

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888899)

Wow.

Most wealthy people understand that keeping money in cash means it loses value over time. Your link to wealth concentration doesn't even remotely support your argument, as that just means that a larger percentage of wealth is owned by a certain number of people. However they put that money into the capital markets such as banks for lending or the stock market for equity purchases which in turn provides the funding that companies use to fund their operations and provide jobs. Wealth concentration isn't even tangentially related.

The "upper tier" has not cornered the dollar market. I don't think you even know what the dollar market is. 20% of the value of the dollars out there is held by Chinese investors. 40+% of the "dollar market" is held by US Government institutions like social security and medicare and banks like the Fed. Very little of it is held by the rich; most rich people have it invested in various value investments like stocks or mutual funds or equity in their companies.

And the reason the dollar is falling is because the Fed has been injecting money into the economy by buying US Treasuries. They are printing money and buying US debt in what's called quantitative easing. Thus they are increasing the money supply dramatically; basic economics says you increase the supply of something, the price goes down.

Stop spreading your classist BS.

Re:how about fighting poverty (2, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#44888145)

Hint: rich people don't 'sit on their money' like Scrooge McDuck in your comic books. They invest it in the businesses that provide jobs for those poor people.

Not really, no. They usually have a diverse investment portfolio beyond a certain level, some in property, some in stocks and bonds, and the rest in various other investment vehicles. You don't get rich and stay rich by doing anything as risky as actually starting viable businesses (90% failure rate is a sucker's game), even VCs are only in it as long as it takes to pump up the company and sell it on to some starry eyed boob, or at least another VC who thinks they can pump it up even further.

Ah you say, but stocks are investing a company, again not really, at least after the first sale. There's no particular reason they have to buy stocks directly from the company, they could just buy from a previous investor, and the value of the stocks rarely has anything to do with the performance of a company. A positive or negative article in the Financial Times can have more of an impact on the value of a stock than any number of profitable quarters.

If the only way to increase wealth was to directly invest in businesses, then yes you'd have a point. But unfortunately it's not, and is in fact a rather poor approach to investment.

Re: how about fighting poverty (1)

techprophet (1281752) | about a year ago | (#44887753)

If you double the wages of a group one of three things will happen. 1) the portion of the price of the produce dedicated to covering labour costs will double. (Ie if 30c per big mac is for labor costs, that'd go up to 60c) 2) half of the people employed in that group will be laid off Or 3) some combination of the above (eg 50% price increase and 25% layoff) While some companies would cut into their profits to avoid that, I'd wager that most wouldn't and those that did couldn't cut deep enough to offset the entire cost without going under

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888541)

The cost of a BigMac to produce would go up a few cents. The price McDonald's charges for it would go up a few dollars. Because it then could. The price of grain to make the bun and lettuce would go up to make the farmer enough bucks to buy some Big Macs. Your rent would go up in proportion to the labor costs of maintenance on your apartment so they could keep eating BigMacs for lunch. Your car insurance would go up $25-$50 per year to pay for the raises for the bottom line grunts. Which means they'd rise the price on BigMacs a little more.

Bottom line: Without price controls, inflation would immediately rise and possibly hyper-rise. Then it would, to quote Douglas Adams, take three decidous forests to buy one ship's peanut.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year ago | (#44887263)

1/5 children in America live in poverty. 2/5 lack adequate nutrition. But let's instead focus on improving the quality of life and longevity of the wealthy!

Starving children are not their target market. Keeping their target market alive longer to buy the stuff the ads they serve are advertising means more profit. It also means the data they collect about those people will be worth more, since data about dead people probably isn't worth anything.

Google's product is people. If they can keep their product around longer, then they can keeping selling it.

Re:how about fighting poverty (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887267)

Is Google a government agency or a charity organization?

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

GT66 (2574287) | about a year ago | (#44887335)

Poor and starving children do not buy expensive products. Sickly, desperate people however spend as much as they can to survive.

Re:how about fighting poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887393)

You do realize you're talking about a company founded in a country where attempting to get rich is a sort of a national sport and even condoned by society in general, don't you? Now I'm not saying capitalism is bad, just that it shouldn't be much of a surprise that such companies are being founded where they are most encouraged to. But they haven't sinned yet, so let's just wait this out a bit and see if they'd rather stay true to the Google motto...

Re:how about fighting poverty (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887451)

If old people could take care of themselves and didn't need to retire (at least not permanently), that would be a tremendous boon for everyone, including the poor. They'd no longer need to save for retirement, or more realistically, they'd no longer be up sheet creek once they get old and quickly burn through whatever savings they had while being unable to work anymore. Health care costs would decrease dramatically if old people got sick at no more than the rate that young people do. So even if we grant your premise that only things that directly help the poor are worth doing, research into fighting aging very much meets that bar. Of course, even if I'll easily grant you that helping the poor is important and worthwhile, your premise is completely bat shit insane - but that's a post for another time.

Re:how about fighting poverty (1)

bitt3n (941736) | about a year ago | (#44887699)

1/5 children in America live in poverty. 2/5 lack adequate nutrition. But let's instead focus on improving the quality of life and longevity of the wealthy!

This reminds me of Faraday's response when Gladstone asked him what practical value electricity could have, namely that the government can tax it. If for some reason you suppose such research advantages will only be enjoyed by the rich, consider that all their extra working years equal free money to the state, whose costs for educating and raising each longer-lived individual remain fixed. Imagine what good those taxes could do to advance your social agenda.

Poverty is inherent in US social ethos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887811)

The social ethos that is almost universal right across the US is that nobody deserves anything unless they work for it, that those not willing or able to find work are despised, and that using taxation to raise the poor out of poverty is absolutely out of the question and would be clear misuse of public money.

(It's fine to use taxation to invade countries, kill foreigners, spy on the entire world, and keep millions of domestic citizens in private jails though.)

In such a country, poverty is not an accident. It is totally normal and to be expected. No other outcome is possible.

Here ya go. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44887093)

Invent a flower substitute that has no calories to replace bread and pastas. And leave vitamins out of it.

Carbs are 70% of McDonald's non-drink calories. I would love to drop weight on a Big Mac and Spaghetti diet.

Re:Here ya go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887217)

Bread and pastas has flour in them. Flowers are for pretty ladies.

Re:Here ya go. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44887531)

Invent a flower substitute

Plastic ones? Silk?

OK, I rose to the bait, so I suppose I shouldn't get too lippy. But really, you write very orchidly.

Re:Here ya go. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44888359)

why don't you just eat less? first world problems, glamouring for food that's not food as a health solution.

just eat a plate of spaghetti and a big mac burger a day and probably you'll lose weight quite fast.. or eat paper if you want to.

That was an empty press release (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44887163)

Well, maybe most of them have this much content, but there's nothing anyone can do with that link but speculate. Not sure why it's even deemed worthy of the front page.

Reality! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887187)

... who thinks it doesn't have to be this way ...

Does he mean the US insurance and health industry practice of inflating prices? A country that spends so much money on physiological health obviously won't have the resources to treat psychological health. Not a smart policy with a jobless recovery and the middle-class lifestyle suffering a financial 'squeeze'.

For them, it's an investment! (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year ago | (#44887275)

The longer you live, the longer they can siphon your data for ad revenue and sell you shiny things!

Fighting death (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44887303)

So the 0.1% will be able to defeat death and keep ruling forever. Our civilization is not at the right stage to do that, there are things that must be solved before giving that kind of power to people that clearly abuses it for their own good to opress the majority.

Re:Fighting death (1)

Alejux (2800513) | about a year ago | (#44889733)

When technology to fight aging appears, it will be like any other technology; expensive at first then cheaper and cheaper. No government in the world would benefit from NOT providing anti-aging treatments to the general population. The aged population provide an enormous economical stress to countries, their pension funds and social security, and specially the healthcare costs, which have, by and large, the majority of it's cost geared towards treating diseases of old age.

Google loves gimmers! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44887339)

It's a match made in heaven. When Google abandon projects there'll be nobody around from when they started (or at least none with all their slates on) to gripe about it.

How depressing ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | about a year ago | (#44887353)

TFS: "Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. ..."

Yes, I bet the friends and especially the families of CEOs (Cook's base salary $1.4 million, cash bonus $2.8 million in 2012) suffer a lot, more than those of the remaining citizens. Not to forget the grief that especially Cook has with all the criticism that Apple does almost pay no taxes.

More on topic: I can well imagine how life prolongement via Google would look like sensors and actors controlled by Google (get your life stream optimized on our servers).

CC.

Re:How depressing ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887617)

Google is going to become Shinra then?

Google, Apple and Genentech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887439)

Talk about feeling them warm fuzzies... like the morgue in midwinter!

Capricious Caprican Cylons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887481)

What was the premise.. all the truly important things about a person.. are already stored online. Just assemble them like a stew and Presto! instant Soul.

Jettison all that useless Autonomic nervous system.. what's it good for anyway? Just wasted brain capacity.. breath in.. breath out..

Once we let go the physical form.. racking people up like flash chip backups should be easy

Immortality is in the Eye of the Beholder.. even if its merely a Cylon eye.

They did that already (2)

BetaDays (2355424) | about a year ago | (#44887513)

Well not really but they did have a project that they cancled that I used. Google Health. I guess they can restart that up. http://www.google.com/intl/en_us/health/about/ [google.com]

When you're a billionaire who has everything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887527)

living forever suddenly becomes a priority.

Google's free (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#44887581)

anti ageing app coming soon to your android device. Suck eggs Microsoft

Re:Google's free (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#44887967)

and watch out Apple as Google has the patent on ageing all sown up!

Google medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887607)

Doctor: Take two Google Aspirins (now in beta), and call me in the morning.

"Promote Health and Fight Aging" (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44887651)

Wait - Isn't that Revlon's tagline?

Sounds more like pharmaceuticals and cosmetics than healthcare to me.

There is a load of stuff out there already (1)

jbrohan (1102957) | about a year ago | (#44887705)

Google could organize it and make it available. Check Stay-in-Touch.ca

What if you're the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887847)

What if corporations full of elitists are imposing an upper limit on average life expectancy? What if TED talks are actually bad for everybody except the 1%? What if it really does just boil down to a resource problem where the fittest win or we all die? Then what?

sorry shareholders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44887993)

"So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange"

Plus since we took away your voting rights.. you can suuuuuck iiiiiiit.

http://money.cnn.com/2012/04/12/technology/google-earnings/index.htm

Thanks, Google, but no thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889355)

Sure, something Google does might seem innocuous at first, but those
among us who don't make snap decisions concerning sharing of our personal
data ( in other words we are not the sort who use Facebook )
will view anything Google does in an extremely circumspect manner.

If you are skeptical of this position relative to Google, let me remind you
that Google was happily collecting data on WiFi access points until their activities
were exposed.

Google's real motto :

"Don't get caught doing evil"

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