Man searching for 8,000 bitcoin in a landfill

Last Updated: 27 July 2022

James Howells’ life changed after he threw away a hard drive that he thought was empty. But at the same time, this hard drive was crucial in gaining access to 8,000 bitcoin. Nine years later, Howells is determined to recover his bitcoin, which is currently worth around €180 million.

James Howells’ plan

For nearly a decade, local authorities have rejected Howells’ requests to enter the landfill. However, the now 36-year-old Welshman has a plan to recover his bitcoin capital. In fact, Howells has raised nearly €11 million in capital to fund his quest. He hopes that a presentation of his plan to the council will get him permission to enter the landfill.

The only problem for Howells is that there are about 110,000 tonnes of rubbish in the dump. And it remains to be seen whether his hard drive has survived all these years. The hard drive has probably had to endure many storms and possibly even snow and freezing temperatures in Wales over nine years. But how will Howells find his hard disk in an area with 110,000 tonnes of rubbish?

Combination of humans, robot dogs and artificial intelligence

James Howells is a former IT specialist, which in this case works to his advantage. He believes it is possible to use a combination of human sorters, robot dogs, and artificial intelligence-driven machines to find the hard drive. Based on the form of permission he gets from the authorities, Howells has two plans for finding his bitcoin.

By his own estimation, the longest version of the plan would take three years, during which time he and his team could search the entire dump. That version of the plan would cost around €11 million. A scaled-down version of the plan is likely to cost Howells about €6 million and take 18 months.

Howells has managed to assemble a team of eight experts who specialise in artificial intelligence sorting, heap searches, waste management, and data extraction.

Robotic dogs as security

To prevent other people from making off with Howells’ bitcoin like a thief in the night, he also wants to hire robot dogs. The robot dogs from Boston Dynamics should then guard the premises against burglars at night and search for objects that resemble Howells’ hard drive during the day.

It creates a situation reminiscent of the episode “Metalhead” of the series Black Mirror, in which a group of similar robot dogs takes over the world. Originally, they are supposed to be good, but after a while, that goes wrong, and the robot dogs turn into killing machines.

The frightening thing, in this case, is that Boston Dynamics’ robot dogs are almost identical copies of the robots from Metalhead. If Howells gets the necessary permission and goes through with the plan, we will undoubtedly see this comparison repeated. Either way, it will be interesting to follow Howells’ story.


  • Steven Gray is a journalist with a heart for crypto. He filters the wide range of news and ensures that it reaches the public in a comprehensible way. He often does this with the support of technical analysis.

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