Desperate problems, you know, desperate solutions.
In 2013, James Howells, a computer engineer, became a rare bird —o no rare tan— among the magnates: he is a millionaire without millions. Or rather, his millions are lost in a huge landfill of Wales in the form of Bitcoins, buried under tons of chicken bones, nappies and peels. Now, after years of trying to locate them, he has a solution to find the hard drive that houses them like a futuristic treasure chest. And it’s almost as far-fetched as the challenge: to call in two special detectives, two Spot robot dog by Boston Dynamics.
The case of Howells is worthy of the scenario of the most horrible of technological tragicomedies. here we have already spoken to you sometimes from him. Around 2009, the engineer mined at home, on an “experimental” basis, between 7,500 there 8,000 Bitcoins – the exact amount varies from one version to another – a more than generous quantity that he then stored, saved and forgotten on an old hard drive.
Today it may sound crazy to us, but back then when Howells was taking its first steps into cryptocurrencies, a Bitcoin was of little value. A few years later, in August 2013, tired of seeing this old bric-a-brac in the drawers, the Welshman decided throw the disc in the trash with some bare wires and a broken mouse. And with it, of course, cryptocurrencies.
A treasure under tons of trash
The huge blunder only became apparent a few months later, when -Relative to New Yorker— vio a BBC report about a young Norwegian who had paid a deposit on an apartment with the earnings of his thousand Bitcoins. Before it ended up in the trash, Howells had between 7,500 and 8,000, which in the fall of 2013 was already a huge approximately $1.4 million. And until. It was also for a good and luxurious apartment.
However, it was more difficult for the engineer from Newport to profit from it than for the lucky miner from Oslo. The reason: your Bitcoins were already buried under bags, bags and more bags with their neighbours’ rubbish. Embarrassed, not really wanting to tell his story, Howells let the time pass without sharing it with anyone. He was silent. Bitcoin was on the rise. And the error, he would later admit, grew bigger and bigger, like a huge snowball.
When his old hard drive was already worth six million, he decided to move.
Since then, Howells moved heaven and earth for the purpose of being allowed to dispose of rubbish in the local landfill. He quit his job, contacted the city council, traveled to the Welsh and British Parliament, secured backing from investors willing to fund the complex and expensive rescue operation and even attempted Newport City Council, his main obstacle, ensuring that if the maneuver was successful and they recovered the hard drive, you could keep 25% of the money.
It was of no use to him. Although the landfill manager calculates that the hard drive was dumped on an area that may be limited to 250 m2 — garbage management too keep a logic— local authorities, who really should be allowing the work, are unconvinced that Howells and its partners are removing the city’s trash. “Their proposals a significant ecological risk which we cannot accept.” underline from the municipal government.
Now Howells has decided to find an alternative and bring in two allies worthy of his bizarre history. In an interview with Business Intern explained that he wants to use two Boston Dynamics Spot Robot Dogs equipped with closed circuit cameras.
His idea is that scan the ground, just like two real bloodhounds, in search of the lost hard drive. The idea may not be totally far-fetched. The Boston devices have already been used for tasks as disparate as scanning construction projects or grazing.
Putting your plan into practice will not be easy. Firstly because of the cost it represents. Spot went on sale in 2020 with a price of almost 73,000 euros per unit, a more than respectable amount that Howells was able to afford, he says, thanks to funding from two venture capitalists. In total, he estimates that the completion of the entire operation will require a capital outlay of €10.77 million.
In addition to the robots, the engineer plans to build facilities next to the landfill from where a team of experts in AI, excavation, waste management and data mining, you can maneuver comfortably. The objective: to find the coveted disc which shot nine years ago.
The second big “but” that the engineer must overcome is the reluctance of the town hall, which in recent years has repeatedly refused to evacuate the rubble and continues to be reluctant today. “There is nothing that can introduce us”, recently explained to Company.
Against Howells, it’s not just the bureaucratic hurdles, the ransom cost, or the tons of junk that separates him from his long-awaited hard drive and bitcoin content playing. Perhaps your great enemy is time and cryptocurrency fluctuations. At the end of 2021, his crypto treasure was worth more than 315 million euros. Today, barely seven months later, but after fluctuations and loss of valueyour 7,500 bitcoins would already be there $160 million.
The story, of course, is up there with the best treasure hunt.