What would it mean for humans to live to five hundred-years-old? To consider this question Google has brought noted futurist Ray Kurzweil aboard as a consultant. Author of the book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, it’s his vision that’s leading their quest to extend human life. Kurzweil imagines that humans and their machines will no longer simply interface as computer and user. We will push past the surface tension of wearable tech. Soon, we’ll have nanobots surfing our bloodstreams, repairing cellular damage, staving off infection and swelling. We’ll pursue genetic perfection, as we use gene therapies to manipulate the code of our DNA. In essence, we will disrupt the business of biology, and merge with our tech. We’ll become what sci-fi writers have always referred to as cyborgs. As part of their ongoing attempt to reshape humanity according to their image, dissatisfied with current limits of a human lifetime, Google is now exploring ways for humans to extend their life expectancy to upwards of five hundred years.
This dude, Bill Maris, the head of Google Ventures, a capital investment arm of the Internet search engine giant, has announced he plans to invest heavily in biotech companies working to make the dream of carbon-based near-immortality possible. With nearly $2 billion in assets divided between 280 startups, the Google Ventures fund is a major player in the Silicon Valley VC game. Each year, Google entrusts Maris with $300 million. He’s free to invest it as he sees fit. According to a recent profile of Maris by Bloomberg Business, over the last fiscal year, Maris has invested 36% of Google Venture’s assets in life science startups. This is a sharp increase upward from the 6% that Maris invested in 2013. If you follow the money, it’s evident: Google wants us to live longer.
Is this the future you want? Well, it’s the future you’re gonna get–if Google’s billions have anything to say about it. It would seem, according to Kurzweil and Sergey Brin, the only way to extend human life is to become part machine. From the Bloomberg Business profile of Maris:
“It will liberate us from our own limitations,” says Maris, who studied neuroscience at Middlebury College and once worked in a biomedical lab at Duke University. Kurzweil is a friend. Google hired him to help Maris and other Googlers understand a world in which machines surpass human biology. This might be a terrifying, dystopian future to some. To Maris, it’s business.
A question that’s thus far been left unanswered by a Google money trail: what will it be like if we manage to merge with our tech at the same time robots are taking all of our jobs?
As Fusion just reported, it’s estimated that in a scant twenty years, around 2035, robots will replace 47% of the jobs currently done in the United States. The majority of modern jobs are in the service industry. As we’re presently seeing in Japan, these are often jobs robots can easily be designed to do. And now, with Google rolling out autonomous cars, and next, self-driving buses, this also means truck drivers, forklift drivers, and the whole Teamsters union will soon be replaced by robots. Some of the earliest industrial robots started working the assembly line in Detroit, building cars. Now, the car is the robot. The danger we risk is that soon everywhere in America will have a job market like Detroit.
If we have a twenty year window before the job market shrinks by roughly 50%, Google may also want to use this time to invest in things for us to do with our new cyborg bodies. We may not all have jobs but we will need goods and services. Perhaps, for their next magical trick, Google and their visionary Kurzweil can imagine a healthy, fully-functioning future economy to keep up with how they re-imagine our bodies.