James Howells’ story reminds us a bit of Stefan Thomas’ delicious track last year: He encrypted the hard drive that a decade later would emit 180 million euros of bitcoinsBut I forgot the password.
Howells, a 37-year-old IT man from Wales, did something even more foolish in 2013: He accidentally pulled the wrong hard drive out of his drawer while cleaning, dumping a sloppy 8000 bitcoin gate.
For years, Howells has been dealing with the local government for permission to find that needle in the haystack. His last plan: a €11 million search, and he promised that 10% of the recovered money could be spent on a cryptocurrency hub in Newport.
The question is whether the city council will be convinced this time around — and whether anyone in Newport is waiting for even a crypto hub. In the past, requests to dig a landfill – the first in 2013 – were always rejected for one reason: such an operation does not outweigh the environmental damage it can cause.
For the current €11 million plan, Howells hired an artificial intelligence (AI) specialist, Rémy Le Grand. He previously told Insider news site that his company wants to train Max-AI algorithms to find hard drives similar to the ones in Howells, and then the mechanical arm can pick the most promising things out of the trash. At night, the robotic dogs will be used again to guard the landfill. There is also a more modest plan, “only” 6 million euros. Anyway, Howells aims to search for at least a year and a half.
The Welshman is now trying to cover up the environmental damage with a lot of promise. For example, after digging, he wants to clean and recycle everything as much as possible, talking about a solar or wind power plant on top of the existing landfill. Finally, he is trying to get 150,000 Newport residents behind him as a wild donor, which would give everyone €60 worth of bitcoin.
Of course, given the current purchasing power crisis raging in the UK, these are handouts only. And one more caveat: if the hard drive is found, it remains to be seen whether it is still possible to recover what is on it. If that turns out to be the case, according to the deal he’s now proposing, Howells will leave around €55 million, or about a third, according to Fortune.
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