Tokelau, a string of three isolated atolls strung out across the Pacific, is so remote that it was the last place on Earth to be connected to the telephone—only in 1997. Just three years later, the islands received a fax with an unlikely business proposal that would change everything.
It was from an early internet entrepreneur from Amsterdam, named Joost Zuurbier. He wanted to manage Tokelau’s country-code top-level domain, or ccTLD—the short string of characters that is tacked onto the end of a URL—in exchange for money.
In the succeeding years, tiny Tokelau became an unlikely internet giant—but not in the way it may have hoped. Until recently, its .tk domain had more users than any other country’s: a staggering 25 million—but the vast majority were spammers, phishers, and cybercriminals.
Now the territory is desperately trying to clean up .tk. Its international standing, and even its sovereignty, may depend on it. Read the full story.
The growing signs of trouble for global carbon markets
There are growing signs of trouble for the multibillion-dollar global carbon market, as investigative stories and studies continue to erode the credibility of the business world’s go-to tool for cleaning up climate emissions.
The promise of offsets is that companies or individuals can balance out their greenhouse-gas pollution by paying other parties to prevent emissions or remove carbon dioxide from the air. But the evidence is mounting that, rather than producing much-needed climate progress, these schemes are mostly a giant waste of money. Read the full story.
This story is from The Spark, our weekly newsletter covering climate and energy. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.
I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Global leaders have agreed on some broad AI principles
But the 28 governments that signed the agreement stopped short of setting clear policy goals. (NYT $)
+ Those vague principles include supporting research and prioritizing safety. (WP $)
+ The US has committed to building an AI Safety Center. (WSJ $)
2 The Hollywood strikes aren’t over yet
Negotiators still haven’t resolved key concerns about AI. (Deadline)
3 A non-profit developed a new gonorrhea-fighting antibiotic
And more are in the pipeline. (Economist $)
+ Why tiny viruses could be our best bet against antimicrobial resistance. (MIT Technology Review)
4 Facebook wants to sell you an ad-free privacy haven
For a mere $10 a month. (Wired $)
5 We’re turning a blind eye to smaller climate disasters
Low-intensity events may be just as crucial to monitor as bigger catastrophes. (The Atlantic $)
+ Climate action is gaining momentum. So are the disasters. (MIT Technology Review)
6 Where have all the SEO experts gone?
They prided themselves on manipulating Google. But Google is still the boss. (The Verge)
7 Electronics firm Foxconn thinks it can make waves in the EV business
It wants to branch out from iPhones. (Bloomberg $)
+ The surprising leader in Europe’s EVs. (MIT Technology Review)
8 Facial prosthetics are an under-appreciated art form
They help patients to navigate the world and in some cases, regain lost self-esteem. (FT $)
+ These prosthetics break the mold with third thumbs, spikes, and superhero skins. (MIT Technology Review)
9 Non-player characters are the true stars of Spider-man 2
The newly-released video game features some seriously weird dialogue. (NY Mag $)
+ Here’s some of their best lines to date. (Wired $)
10 Future wearable devices won’t need batteries
Thanks to experimental electronic skins and flexible sensors. (IEEE Spectrum)
Quote of the day
“If you really knew me, you’d know that I will not sit here for four days and listen to everybody talk about how they’re crushing it.”
—An anonymous tech founder opens up in a trust exercise designed to encourage industry leaders to become more vulnerable during an exclusive Californian retreat, Insider reports.
The big story
Inside Alphabet X’s new effort to combat climate change with seagrass
For years, Tidal, a project within Alphabet’s “moonshot factory” X division, has been using cameras, computer vision and machine learning to get a better understanding of life beneath the oceans, including monitoring fish off the coast of Norway.
Source : Technology Review