Bookmarker Takes Bets on Google Barge


When we reported on Google’s mystery barges off the US coasts, many GaS readers seemed certain what the company was doing with them. Now those of you who feel confident can put your money where your mouth is.

A British bookmaker is now accepting bets on the true purpose of the barges, with “floating data center” the current favorite.

As we noted last week, Google has been confirmed as the operator of three barges, currently off the Oregon, California and Maine coasts, while a fourth barge is registered to the same Delaware shell company.

If you think the barges are indeed for a data centre, you can (at the time of writing) place a bet with PaddyPower at odds of 10/11. That’s -110 in Vegas-style odds, meaning for every £11 you bet, you’ll get back £10 (plus your stake) if you win.

Although there’s some evidence the barges could be used as showcases and stores for Google Glass, including the fact that the barges are said to be scheduled to tour ports, and that a Google Glass project executive was involved with talks with the coastguard, the oddsmakers consider that a longshot at 12/1 (+1200).

Options currently rated as more likely include that the barges are a test facility for Project Loon, which uses balloons to relay wireless Internet signals (3/1 or +300); that it’s a centre for a neural network (6/1 or +600); or that it’s a test center specifically for the “Web of Things”, meaning internet-connected devices (8/1 or +800).

Longer shots include it being a lab for the Calico project, in which Google aims to extend the human lifespan (16/1 or +1600) or that it’s a prototype for a self-driving barge (20/1 or +2000).

If you fancy a real moonshot of a gamble, you can also bet that it’s a launch pad for a space elevator, which has odds of 500/1 (+50000).

The bets do have some conditions: they refer specifically to the barge that has been in San Francisco Bay, and Google must confirm the particular use before PaddyPower pays out, with a deadline of the end of 2020.

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