Larry Page, 40, is the co-founder and CEO of one of the most successful, ubiquitous and increasingly strange companies on the planet. Google is, of course, in the search business, and, more important for its profitability, it is in the online-advertising business. But it's also in the driverless-car business, the wearable-computing business, and the business of providing Internet access to remote areas via high-altitude balloons, among countless others.
Page prefers to refer to the search giant's more out-there ventures as moon shots. At the moment Google is preparing an especially uncertain and distant shot. It is planning to launch Calico, a new company that will focus on health and aging in particular. "In some industries," says Page, who spoke exclusively with TIME about the new venture, "it takes 10 or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Health care is certainly one of those areas. We should shoot for the things that are really, really important, so 10 or 20 years from now we have those things done."
The unavoidable question this raises 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 basic fact of the human condition, the existential certainty of aging and death? To which the unavoidable answer is another question: Who the hell else is going to do it?