Google wants to map every aspect of a healthy human body. (I mean, why not? It’s not like they’re busy.)
The company’s ambitions are right there in its mission statement: ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. Thinking small, we once thought they were just referring to text on the internet. Now we know their vision expands to magical glasses and contact lenses, self-driving cars, and understanding the human body in its entirety.
Their newly-announced Baseline Study is a project humbly designed to know as much about human anatomy, chemistry, physiology, and biology as possible. The aim is to create better screening tools for terminal diseases, and to explore whether one day they can be eradicated altogether.
To start with, the project, led by respected molecular biologist Andrew Conrad, will collect (anonymous) samples from 175 people. The plan is that later they’ll have genetic data from thousands of healthy volunteers which they can study (in the lab and using computer algorithims) to discover what makes them that way – a twist on the usual medical approach of analysing what’s gone wrong.
Baseline Study is part of Project X, Google’s cutting-edge research division that has brought us most of its recent non-search innovations, and almost brought us a jet pack and Back to the Future Part II-style hoverboard.
If the company sees it through, this could have the potential to help a huge number of people. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go the way of Google Wave.