calicoGoogle’s latest business venture: Calico, or the “California Life Company,” aims to extend life by tackling aging and disease. How? Big-data analytics is the key.

On the one hand, could this be an early Google April fool?

On The Other Hand, Google certainly brings the data-crunching smarts and CEO Art Levinson brings his knowledge of genetics.

Harry McCracken and Lev Grossman ask the hard questions:

Google is, of course…in the online-advertising business. … Page prefers to refer to the search giant’s more out-there ventures as moon shots. … It is planning to launch Calico, a new company that will focus on health and aging in particular.    …

The unavoidable question…is why a company built on finding information and serving ads next to it is spending untold amounts on a project that flies in the face of…the existential certainty of aging and death? … Who the hell else is going to do it?    …

Medicine is well on its way to becoming an information science: doctors and researchers are now able to harvest and mine massive quantities of data from patients. And Google is very, very good with large data sets. …expect [Google] to use its core data-handling skills to shed new light on familiar age-related maladies.

Google’s Larry Page is excited to announce the new venture:

…you’re probably thinking wow! That’s a lot different from what Google does today [but] there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives.    …

Art Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer. … Art and I are excited about tackling aging and illness…from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases. …we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales. By Richi Jennings, Read more