Man Who Lost 8000 BTC Unveils Robot Dog Masterplan to Recover Fortune

July 27, 2022, 10:06 AM AEST - 2 weeks ago

It’s been nine long years for James Howells, an IT engineer from the Welsh city of Newport, since he accidentally threw away a hard drive containing close to 8000 BTC.

Now, the 36-year-old has a new technology-centric plan to recover his fortune:

A Costly Mistake

According to the latest update of this saga from Business Insider, Howells had two identical hard drives stored in a drawer in 2013. One was blank and the other contained some 8000 BTC, worth US$552 million at one stage.

He intended to throw the blank one away, but mistakenly disposed of the one containing bitcoin, which ended up at the local municipal dump. Despite his best efforts, he has repeatedly been denied access, with local authorities arguing it would be too expensive and detrimental to the environment.

A man stands looking at the camera in front of a road and a metal fence.
James Howells. Source: Business Insider 

A ‘Needle in a Haystack’

After various failed attempts, Howells has now devised a new approach, backed by US$11 million in venture capital, which he hopes to present to the council in the coming weeks.

In short, he intends to sift through 110,000 tons of garbage through a combination of human sorters, robot dogs, and an artificial intelligence-powered machine trained to look for hard drives on a conveyor belt.

There are apparently two versions of his plan, depending on what council approves. The more costly version would take three years and cost US$11 million, whereas a scaled-down version would cost US$6 million over 18 months.

Howells has assembled a team of specialists across a number of key fields, including AI-powered sorting, landfill excavation, waste management, and data extraction.

A yellow quadrapedal robot with a mechanical arm attached to its back stands on a stage in front of a purple backdriop that says "collision."
Example of a robot dog to be used by Boston Dynamics. Source: Business Insider  

The unfortunate Bitcoiner has committed to ensuring the environment is protected, saying he did not want to damage it in any way, adding: “If anything, we want to leave everything in a better condition.”

Council Stonewalls Proposals

In rather typical bureaucratic fashion, a representative of the council told Business Insider: “There is nothing that Mr Howells could present to us that would make the council agree”, adding: “His proposals pose significant ecological risk, which we cannot accept and indeed are prevented from considering by the terms of our permit.”

If successful, the recovery team will enjoy 30 percent of the proceeds, with Howell and the investors retaining 30 percent apiece. The balance would then be shared among each of Newport’s 150,000 residents.

In the absence of council approval and as a last resort, Howell is prepared to go to court to gain access to the dump, saying: “I’ve been reluctant to go down that route in the past because I’ve not wanted to cause problems”, stressing that he instead “wanted to work with Newport City Council”.

Richard Hammond of Top Gear fame has interviewed Howells in a fascinating short documentary. It is well worth watching to uncover the lengths a person will go to when faced with the prospect of losing life-altering wealth:

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