Imagine having £150 million in a hard drive and accidentally throwing it away – That is exactly what happened to a computer engineer from Wales. James Howells had a hard drive with around 8000 bitcoins in 2013 but while cleaning his office, he threw it away in a rubbish dump in Newport. At present, the value of the hard drive’s bitcoin is somewhere around £150 million, and Howells is desperate to find it. The 37-year-old has already faced multiple rejections for his requests to search the dump due to environmental concerns, but he has now come up with a new idea.
With funding from hedge funds, he is looking to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to operate a mechanical arm as well as robot dogs in order to thoroughly search the entire area.
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“Digging up a landfill is a huge operation in itself. The funding has been secured. We’ve brought on an AI specialist. Their technology can easily be retrained to search for a hard drive,”
“We’ve also got an environmental team on board. We’ve basically got a well-rounded team of various experts, with various expertise, which, when we all come together, are capable of completing this task to a very high standard,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.
While there is no guarantee that the hard disk will be recovered or the files inside the device is not already corrupted, Howells remain optimistic, and he believes that the search will take around a year.
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He also promised to use the money for charitable purposes if the device is recovered.
“We’ve got a whole list of incentives, good cases we’d like to do for the community. One of the things we’d like to do on the actual landfill site, once we’ve cleaned it up and recovered that land, is put a power generation facility, maybe a couple of wind turbines,” he told The Guardian.