Gegli news - An $11 million effort to find $181 million worth of bitcoins in a junkyard - 7/27/2022 1:17:22 PM 1:17:22 PM
James Howells' life changed when he accidentally threw away a hard drive containing 8,000 bitcoins. If he had this hard drive now, he would have access to about $181 million in capital. But still he has not been able to get his hard drive and the efforts are still going on.
In 2013, James Howells had placed two identical laptop hard drives in his desk drawer. One of them was empty and the other one contained 8000 bitcoins. He wanted to throw away the empty hard drive, but mistakenly threw away a drive that could be worth millions of dollars today.
Now, nine years later, Howells is still determined to find his bitcoins. Now 36, he hopes local authorities will allow him to search for his coins in the landfill, but he has yet to get their consent.
For nearly a decade, Newport City Council in Wales has rejected his requests to go after the hard drive, claiming it would be not only expensive but also environmentally damaging. However, Howells has not backed down.
Howells has now given Insider magazine a look at his $11 million plan to review 110,000 tons of waste. This project is planned with the support of two investors and he hopes to be able to receive the green light from the city council to start his search operation in the coming weeks.
Finding a hard drive the size of an iPhone 6 among tons of trash seems like an impossible mission. But Howells, who happens to work in IT in the past, says that this can be done with the help of human sorting forces, robotic dogs and an artificial intelligence algorithm that can follow the drive back on a conveyor belt.
This map is set in two versions depending on how far the city council allows him to search. According to the predictions of James Howells, the implementation of the most comprehensive solution will take three years and include the examination of 110,000 tons of waste and spend 11 million dollars. But a smaller version of this program can be done within 18 months and at a cost of 6 million dollars.
He has formed a team of eight experts who are skilled in areas such as sorting with artificial intelligence, extraction from waste cemeteries, waste management and data mining. One of these people had previously worked for the company that recovered data from the space shuttle Columbia's black box.
These professionals and their companies will enter into a contractual agreement with Howells if they start working and will receive a special reward if the bitcoins are recovered. The machines will pull out the trash, he says, and then it will be sorted at a center near the cemetery.
Humans will then inspect the waste, and a machine called Max-AI from an Oregon-based company will be placed on the conveyor belt to re-inspect the waste. Remy Le Grand of the Max-AI team says the company is training AI algorithms to find hard drives that look like Hard Drive Howells. A mechanical arm then removes anything that could be considered a candidate.
Howells has not forgotten security issues and has considered the possibility of theft of his hard drive. He budgeted for 24-hour surveillance cameras and two Spot robotic dogs from Boston Dynamics. These dogs are supposed to move every night as mobile cameras in the garbage disposal center and keep an eye on the troops in addition to searching for his drive.
James Howells says his team held its first meeting in May to rehearse what it had to say to the city council. The meeting was not without surprises and "Richard Hammond", the former presenter of Top Gear, was also present. He has released a short documentary video of Howells on his YouTube.
"They're clearly a committed group of people who believe in him and their program ... if I were him, I don't think I would have the strength to do these things," Hammond said of Howells' team.
Once the search is over, Howells says, they clean up the debris and recycle it as much as possible. The rest of the waste that cannot be recycled will be buried again. "We don't want to harm the environment in any way, we want to leave everything in a better condition," he continues.
Part of Howells' plan is to build a solar or wind farm at the cemetery once the work is finished. However, it doesn't look like the city council will agree to his proposal anytime soon. A city councilor told Insider that none of Mr. Howells' plans would get the council to give him a permit: "His plans have significant environmental risks that we cannot accept."
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