In a surprising twist of digital fate, the tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla, a British overseas territory with a mere 16,000 inhabitants, has become an unexpected beneficiary of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) boom. The island’s unique internet domain, ‘.ai’, assigned by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is in high demand among tech giants and startups alike, looking to stake their claim in the thriving AI sector. The likes of Elon Musk’s xAI, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are among those who have already secured their .ai domains.
The .ai domain is managed by Vince Cate, a software developer who has been overseeing the domain on Anguilla’s behalf since the 1990s. According to Cate, the total number of .ai registrations has nearly doubled in the past year, reaching a staggering 287,432. This surge in popularity, sparked by the public launch of ChatGPT last November, could potentially generate up to $30 million in domain-registration fees for the island this year. To put this into perspective, the UN data reveals that Anguilla’s annual GDP was $288 million in 2021, meaning the .ai domain could contribute to around 10% of its total domestic product.
The Tiny Caribbean Island Making Big Money from AI Boom
Anguilla’s Unique Internet Domain
Anguilla, a small British overseas territory located in the Caribbean, may have a population of just around 16,000, but it’s making a substantial income thanks to the artificial intelligence (AI) boom. The island has been assigned the "ai" country code by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which means anyone looking to acquire a URL ending in ".ai" has to go through the Anguillan government.
Big Players in the Tech Industry
The thriving tech sector, including big names like Elon Musk’s xAI, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, along with numerous startups, already own .ai domains. The domain has seen a massive surge in popularity, with the total number of .ai registrations nearly doubling in the past year to a total of 287,432, according to Vince Cate, the software developer who has managed the domain since the 1990s.
The AI Boom and Anguilla’s Economy
Cate also shared with Bloomberg that the AI boom could generate a whopping $30 million in domain-registration fees for Anguilla this year alone. To put this into perspective, Anguilla had an annual GDP of $288 million in 2021 according to the UN data. This means the .ai domain could contribute to around 10% of its total domestic product.
Other Nations Benefitting from Unique Country Codes
Anguilla is not the only nation benefitting from its unique country code. Tuvalu, a Pacific island nation with a population of 11,000, leases its ".tv" domain to several video-centric websites like Twitch. In 2019, Tuvalu made $7.1 million, which constituted about 8% of the government’s total revenue.
The case of Anguilla and Tuvalu highlights the unforeseen benefits a country’s unique internet domain can bring. It illustrates how the digital economy can provide significant revenue streams, even for small nations. It also raises the question of how best to leverage unique digital assets for economic gain. As the AI industry continues to grow, it’s likely that the value of the .ai domain will continue to rise, and with it, Anguilla’s profits.