AI Boom Makes Millions for an Unexpected Industry Player: Anguilla

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The integration of artificial intelligence into everyday life has raised doubts for many about the future of humanity. But in Anguilla, a small Caribbean island east of Puerto Rico, the AI ​​boom has made the country lucky.

The British territory collects a fee from each registration for an Internet address ending in “.ai”, which is the domain name assigned to the island, such as “.fr” for France and “.jp” for Japan. . With companies seeking Internet addresses that communicate at the forefront of the AI ​​boom — such as Elon Musk’s website for his artificial intelligence company — Anguilla has recently seen requests for domain names. There has been a lot of traffic.

For each domain registration, the Anguilla government receives anywhere from $140 to thousands of dollars from auctioned website names, according to official figures. Last year, the Anguilla government earned about $32 million from these fees. That’s more than 10 percent of the gross domestic product for about 16,000 people and an area of ​​35 square miles.

“Some call it a hurricane,” said Anguilla Premier Alice Webster. “We call it God smiling on us.”

Mr. Webster said the government used the money to provide free health care to citizens 70 and older, and it spent millions of dollars to complete construction of a school and vocational training center. What is the commitment? The government has also allocated funds to improve its airport. Doubled its budget for sports activities, events and facilities. And increased the budget of citizens seeking treatment abroad, he said.

The island, which relies heavily on tourism, was hit hard in 2017 by pandemic travel restrictions and a devastating hurricane. The .ai domain revenue was the boost the country needed.

“We never thought it would have this potential,” Mr Webster said.

Anguilla’s control of .ai dates back to the early days of the Internet, when nations and territories were assigned their own share of cyberspace. Anguilla received .ai, and its government, which has its own website at , didn’t make much use of it until domain names started bringing in millions. Officials are uncertain about how long the honor will last, but they predict that 2024 will bring in the same revenue from domain names as last year.

This isn’t the first bonanza to make a big difference for a grateful domain owner. Tuvalu, a chain of islands northwest of Australia, sold the rights to its “.tv” suffix to a Canadian entrepreneur for $50 million, using the proceeds to electrify the outer islands, create scholarships and include used to finance the to be. United Nations.

On the other hand, the South Pacific island of Nu gave an American businessman the rights to its “.nu” suffix in exchange for an Internet connection in the 1990s. The island later claimed it had swindled cash it attracted by selling domain names to thousands of Scandinavians with the suffix “nu”, which means “now” in Swedish, Danish and Dutch.

But Anguilla soon realized he couldn’t let this unexpected jackpot slip away.

“It’s just lucky for ussaid Mr. Webster.

Brian Horst Cooperation reporting.

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