An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Former IT worker James Howells — who once stood on the very forefront of the crypto boom and could have been a multimillionaire — is desperate to scour a UK landfill located in Newport, Wales where he might find a missing drive that contains the passcode for a crypto wallet containing 8,000 bitcoin, worth close to $176 million as of writing. Howells said he accidentally dumped the wrong hard drive back in 2013. Though the price of crypto remains in the proverbial dumpster, this data cache represents millions of dollars simply stuck on the blockchain, with nobody able to access the wallet without the required passcode. It’s been a long road, and he hasn’t given up on his quest to rescue his missing millions. Only problem is finding that hard drive would require digging through a literal mountain of garbage.
In an interview with Business Insider released Sunday, Howell said he has a foolproof scheme to rescue his bitcoin from an actual trash pile. He’s put together an $11 million business plan which he’ll use to get investors and the Newport City Council on board to help excavate the landfill. His proposal would require them to dig through 110,000 tons of trash over three years. A $6 million version of the plan would go over 18 months. A video hosted by Top Gear alum Richard Hammond said the bitcoin “proponent” has already reportedly secured funding from two Euro-based venture capitalists Hanspeter Jaberg and Karl Wendeborn, if Howells can get approval from the local government.
The garbage would be sorted at a separate pop-up facility near the landfill using human pickers and an AI system used to spot that hard drive amidst all that other refuse. He’s even brought on eight experts in artificial intelligence, excavation, waste management, and data extraction, all to find a lone hard drive in a trash pile. The plan also involves making use of the Boston Dynamics robotic dogs. The former IT worker told reporters the machines could be used as security and CCTV cameras to scan the ground, looking for the hard drive. When they were released, each “Spot” robot model cost $74,500. Even with that price tag, Howells said he already has names for the two. Insider reported he would name one Satoshi, named after Satoshi Nakamoto, the person or group behind the white paper that first proposed bitcoin back in 2008. The other one would be named “Hal” — no, not that HAL — but Hal Finney, the first person to receive a bitcoin transaction. A spokesperson for the local government told Insider Howells could present or say “nothing” that would convince them to go along with the plan, citing ecological risk. If the council says no — again — Howells told reporters he’d take the government to court.