Google’s medical reverie

  Since the beginning of this year, the Ebola virus has been raging and expanding around the world. The outbreak of the infectious disease crisis in underdeveloped regions is making more and more developed countries panic. Various international organizations and multinational companies are participating in the fight against Ebola at the fastest speed, and various researches are gradually being carried out after people’s attention has increased.
  Some scientists believe that the Ebola virus appeared as early as 20 million years ago, and that this virus will continue to erupt. And because of the age of its birth, the Ebola virus may have close relatives, and other deadly viruses are waiting for opportunities to threaten humanity. Compared with the Ebola virus with a long history, the modern international society full of high technology is pale in today’s response measures and medical technology.
  In this way, if the next epidemic is to be prevented, the value of forward-looking research cannot be ignored. Some “outsiders” who seem to be unrelated to the medical and health field are ambitiously entering fields beyond their core business, and Google is one of them.
  The breadth of
  Google’s taste is well known. CEO Larry Page once said in an interview with Time Magazine: “I don’t intend to spend all of Google’s money on risks, but the expenditure is the same as that of a normal company. We should spend more money on some longer-term and more ambitious things after the new R&D expenses.”
  Although Google did not announce the moon landing, it has launched a series of plans that go beyond the general company’s mission. In the medical field, Google established a new company called Calico at the end of last year. The company will focus on aging issues, including life-threatening diseases, issues affecting mental and physical agility, etc. Google is trying to fight death with the money it makes on the Internet. Page explained this: “Disease and aging are affecting all families, and we have some long-term ideas similar to the moon landing plan in health care and biotechnology. I think we will be able to improve millions Human life.”
  Medical care is becoming an information science, and doctors and researchers are now able to develop and utilize the huge amount of data generated by patients. Google is extremely good at handling big data. As early as last year, some people expected Calico to use Google’s core data processing technology to study aging. Sources close to Calico said that Calico’s initial scale is small and will be entirely focused on new technology research. Although Calico is a startup company, it is more like a laboratory. In the first few years of the company, in order to maintain the company’s operations, Google will successively inject millions of dollars into Calico.
  However, in the era when big data is just getting started, researching medical issues through data and statistics can attract people’s attention more than launching drugs to the market. “If you solve the cancer problem, human life expectancy will increase by about three years, which will completely change the world. There are too many tragedies of cancer patients in the world. But taking a step back, generally speaking, the progress in solving cancer at this stage is not as good as people think. That’s so big.” Page said in an interview with Time Magazine. Therefore, he hopes to use data and information to solve some medical problems more quickly and intuitively, even if this is a matter that requires continuous investment and will not be effective in the short term.
  Despite frequent actions in the medical field, some people also think that Google is very ambitious and worry about whether these technical geeks are taking the right path. For example, Calico’s needs do not meet any of the most pressing topics nowadays. But Google believes that Calico is different, and it will make longer-term investments than most medical companies. Page said it is long-term investment Calico’s mind: “In some industries, the idea became a reality for a decade or two of these industries belong to the medical profession, of course, we should put the really important business with ten or twenty years..”
  Data’s Sleepy
  Some people may think that it is too early to use big data to study cancer, but it has been a long time since it has been applied to the field of public medical and health care. In 2009, the new influenza virus A (H1N1) spread rapidly in just a few weeks, and public health agencies around the world are worried that a deadly epidemic is about to strike. At that time, the United States, like all other countries, often had a delay of one or two weeks in monitoring new flu cases. The consequences of a two-week lag in information will be terrible, and public health agencies will be at a loss during the critical period of the outbreak.
  And just a few weeks before the crisis broke out, Google’s engineers published a compelling paper in the magazine, saying that Google was able to predict the spread of winter flu and explained why: Google used people’s online search records. To complete this prediction-Google has retained all search records for many years, and it receives more than 3 billion search instructions from around the world every day. Such a huge data resource is sufficient to support and help it complete this work.
  In fact, this case is also the origin of today’s big data application boom. Google first launched the flu trend service in 2008, using data from web searches to track the spread of flu viruses. However, in the years since 2009, the flu model’s prediction data on the spread of influenza in the United States has over-predicted, especially during the 2012-2013 flu season, Google’s flu predictions were well-known errors. Some sociologists have even ridiculed the flu prediction as “big data hubris” (big data hubris). After several years of “over-forecasting”, this year Google upgraded the flu spreading model. On October 31, the company published a blog post stating that it “built a new engine” for the model.
  Enhancing the accuracy of forecasts will help public health officials respond to flu outbreaks more quickly. Christian Stefansen, a senior software engineer at Google, said in his blog: “These models can complement other survey systems well, forecasting from a more specific location, and at the same time more timely.”
  Google said that the new flu The trend model currently only forecasts for the United States. If it succeeds, it may be expanded to other parts of the world in the future. Currently, Google Flu Trends covers 29 countries. In addition, Google is tracking dengue fever trends in 10 countries.
  In addition to Calico and flu trend forecasts, Google has invested a lot in the field of health care. For example, Adimab, a company invested by Google earlier than Calico, has developed an antibody discovery and optimization platform, while another company called iPierian is trying to use the technology of “cell reprogramming” to develop new drugs to treat various diseases.
  In addition to research and development technologies such as medical treatment, wearable device technology is also used in the medical field. The Google X department is testing smart contact lenses that help diabetic patients understand their physical conditions. It measures the glucose content in the tears to determine whether the patient’s physical state is balanced. Different from the existing monitoring tools implanted in the skin that still require blood testing, smart contact lenses will check the data every second. When the patient’s blood sugar is higher or lower than a certain index, it can give an early warning. In terms of physical structure, this pair of contact lenses has built-in small electronics and an antenna “thinner than a human hair”. Google is currently negotiating with the US FDA on regulatory matters, looking for partners who are willing to bring this achievement to the market.
  When will medical treatment become one of Google’s main businesses? I don’t know yet, but what is certain is that the medical and health field is no longer an industry problem and challenge. The participation of multiple industries such as the Internet and technology penetration will help us change our thinking to deal with diseases and health problems.

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