Garbage Life – Briton James Howells, infamous for accidentally dumping a 7,500 BTC hard drive in a landfill in 2013, is back. And he has a plan. Robot dogs, venture capital, artificial intelligence… For once, James feels that the sickening wind of misfortune may finally turn around. And not a recalcitrant municipality, but a few vaguely environmental considerations manage to get in the way of what is now becoming his life’s quest: to find the lost bitcoins, whose presence he feels there, about 50 cm under his feet. .
Mental (discharge) charge
The name James Howells might mean nothing to you. And yet, in the image of Satoshi Nakamoto, from creating a HODL burp! or Bitcoin Pizza Day, its history is etched into the early history of Bitcoin. Even if it is easy to imagine that the person concerned would prefer to remain comfortably anonymous, he nevertheless realized the full value of Bitcoin before most of us.
Indeed, James Howells started mining bitcoin in 2009, at the very early age of the blockchain queen. Therefore, he is a contemporary of S. Nakamoto. As such, he is one of the few pioneers in the industry, and for that alone, he would deserve a special place in the crypto pantheon. Unfortunately, he will go down in history for a completely different reason.
Back in the days when it was still possible, James was frantically mining bitcoins on his laptop. Thus, he will accumulate 7500 bitcoins stored on his internal hard drive. The dark story of a friend who is dissatisfied with the noise and heat generated by the device, and later spilled lemonade, in the end, said hard drive is removed, cleaned and stored in an anonymous box.
This is where the drama unfolds. On the occasion of a major cleaning, our unfortunate Briton accidentally throws away a disc. Then he is completely unaware that by doing so, he seals his fate and spoils the quality of his sleep for the next decade.
Some time later, during a television broadcast, the young man becomes aware of two things. On the one hand, his 7,500 bitcoins are worth about $650,000. And that, on the other hand, the treasure now rests for some time under several tons of garbage. You thought you knew the emotional lift phenomenon? Think of James with compassion.
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Bitcoin Lost, Newport City Hall Ignores
In 2017, the Journal du Coin has already repeated this story, and you can read about the adventures and vicissitudes that James went through in the following years. The various episodes that we will summarize by simply mentioning that yes, the municipality of Newport – the municipality of our bemused bitcoiner’s residence – understood the problem, but what is not, there was no question of allowing anyone to randomly dig into the industrial, polluted and dangerous environment (the area of the landfill is equal to the area of several football fields).
James’ bitcoin gold is currently valued at around $160 million. Enough to live the life of a dream, not a nightmare of trash cans and an industrial grinder.
Over the years, from time to time, James’s story has occasionally found a new echo, according to media interviews, half surprised, half heartbroken by the misfortune of the young computer scientist. A real ode to the vital need for a “backup” (and the dangers of drinking lemonade at the computer). Unfortunately little progress has been made over the years, the municipality still resists the slightest excavation at the site. A site of such scope that everyone agreed that the research enterprise will involve a new definition of the concepts of “needle” and “haystack”, a version of a decentralized economy.
But in 2022, everything can change: James returns to action! And this time he is ready and seems to have managed to assemble a team, solid financial resources and a battle plan. A happy epilogue in the future?
Digital gold in the trash
In an interview with Business Insider, James details his plan. And even his plans, with different timeframes and rates, thus demonstrating that he is ripe for his strategy (10 years of insomnia probably helped). And at least we can say that even if it means marking crypto history, you can do it in a big way! On the one hand, James enlisted the support of investment funds, whom he managed to convince of his few chances of success (after all, we have seen how crypto investment funds make more stupid bets, right?).
For example, Hanspeter Jaberg and Carl Wendeborn, two Swiss venture capitalists, pledged to support the Brit’s initiative in the amount of $11 million.
A significant budget, but which will not be too large due to the size of the site. Indeed, we are talking about the prospect of returning, sorting and subsequent processing of more than 110,000 tons of waste over an estimated period of 18 months to 3 years. To support these excavations, numerous personnel and a special AI-enhanced tracking and sorting station are able to detect anything that potentially resembles James’s hard drive.
To complete the picture, a team of valiant ordurologists plan to enlist the services of several instances of Spot’s robot dog from Boston Dynamics on a mission to guard the site at night and, like true new-species truffle pigs, participate in daytime research.
Add to this that James Howells plans to generously reward the entire team, Newport City Council, as well as the entire population of the city (total 150,000 people) with incentives and a generous distribution of Satoshi. All this, of course, provided that the environment is found and it can still be used. A probability that Howells rates as “an 80 to 90% probability”.
The plan is sound, the motivation is obvious, but at the time of writing, Newport City Hall has again signaled that access to the site and permission to excavate is out of the question. A stance that visibly disappoints James, who points out that he could potentially consider suing the town hall for an “illegal embargo” of his bitcoins… A somewhat crazy stance, but probably not much more than this whole modern day saga that doesn’t finished building my legend.
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