Briton who lost 7,500 BTC will use artificial intelligence to find it
James Howells, a resident of Newport, UK, who accidentally dumped a hard drive containing 7,500 BTC in 2013, says he wants to find it using X-ray scanners and artificial intelligence.
Howells studied aerial photos of the landfill site where the HDD was allegedly found. He estimates the search area is 200 square metres and goes down to a depth of about 15 metres. The mass of debris there reaches about 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes. Howells plans to spend a year scanning all 3,000 cubic metres of the waste dump.
The Briton's initiative has been backed by an unnamed hedge fund willing to sponsor the purchase of the equipment.
"We have a system with multiple conveyor belts, X-ray scanners and an artificial intelligence-based device. It can be trained to recognise objects that are similar in size and density to a hard disk," James Howells told us.
The price of a single scanning device costs £500,000 (over $690,000), and a tool to remove contaminants costs £100,000 (over $138,000).
Howells said the search would be carried out as delicately as possible to avoid damaging the hard drive. The current value of his lost bitcoins is almost $240 million.
However, the excavation was opposed by local authorities. They said the planned procedure was very expensive and could harm the environment.
"The cost of excavating the landfill, storing and handling the waste could run into millions of pounds - without any guarantee that they will find the hard drive and it will be in working order," Newport City Council said.
It is not yet known whether Howells will be able to settle the matter.
As a reminder, James Howells accidentally threw away a hard drive containing bitcoins when he was cleaning out his office in 2013. In January 2021, the Briton offered about $72 million to Newport authorities for digging up the dump, but was turned down.
About $140 billion in bitcoin is in lost or forgotten cryptocurrency wallets.
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