Earth-like planets potentially capable of supporting life may be right in our galactic neighborhood, researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and the California Institute of Technology said Wednesday.“The nearest Earth-like planet is probably 13 light-years away; astronomically speaking, that’s just a stroll across the park,” said Courtney Dressing, a doctoral student in Harvard’s Astronomy Department and the lead author of a new analysis of data from the Kepler Space Telescope, which since 2009 has been examining distant stars for signs of orbiting planets.Dressing, together with Professor David Charbonneau of Harvard’s Astronomy Department and John Johnson, an assistant professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, appeared at a news conference to discuss the work.The new analysis focused on a category of stars smaller and dimmer than our own sun — “red dwarfs.” Red dwarfs offer several advantages for hunters of exoplanets, as worlds circling stars outside our solar system are called. First, they are the most common stars in the Milky Way, making up some 75 percent of all. Second, because they’re so much dimmer than our sun, the “habitable zone” orbit within which life could exist is much closer to the star. A planet circling closer to its sun orbits more frequently, giving scientists more chances of detecting it crossing its star’s face.Dressing found 95 planets or planet candidates around those stars. Of those, she identified three candidates that are the right size and temperature to be considered Earth-like. When several others close to their habitable zones or of nearly Earth-like size are considered, the researchers said it appears that approximately 6 percent of red dwarf stars should have an Earth-like planet. Because Kepler is examining distant stars, the three Earth-like planets they detected are quite far away, between 300 and 600 light-years from here.Dressing found 95 planets or planet candidates around red dwarfs. Of those, she identified three candidates that are the right size and temperature to be considered Earth-like. The next step, according to Charbonneau, is to design instruments that can examine these relatively nearby stars.The researchers then turned their analysis to the neighborhood of our own star, where there are 248 red dwarfs within 30 light-years. The analysis indicated that the most probable distance for a red dwarf with an Earth-like planet circling is 13 light-years.“There should be a planet within 13 light-years,” Dressing said. “I really look forward to finding that first planet.”The next step, according to Charbonneau, is to design instruments that can examine these relatively nearby stars. New telescopes already planned, like the James Webb Space Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope, being constructed on a mountaintop in Chile, could be used in the hunt, he said.Charbonneau, a pioneer in exoplanet research, said these planets are small enough to be rocky, like Earth, and warm enough to be friendly to life, but conditions on a planet around a red dwarf would otherwise be very unlike Earth.The planet would orbit very close to its sun and be bombarded with ultraviolet radiation. Because red dwarfs are active, with numerous sunspots, the planet would face large variations in illumination. It could also be locked in an orbit like our moon is to Earth, with the same side always facing the planet. On a planet that has no atmosphere, one side could have furnace-like temperatures while the dark side froze. However, with an atmosphere and an ocean, a red dwarf’s planet could be buffered from the star’s radiation and heat distributed more evenly around it.What that means for life is unclear, Charbonneau said. If exoplanet research has taught astronomers anything, it’s to be ready to be surprised. Astronomers have come to understand that the Milky Way not only contains billions of stars with planets around them, but also that the configuration of those alien solar systems strays widely from our own. There’s no reason, Charbonneau said, that life in those solar systems shouldn’t also stray widely from that on Earth.If life does develop near a red dwarf, it might have billions more years to evolve than life on Earth. Unlike our sun, which will undergo changes that will extinguish life within a billion years, red dwarfs don’t show much change, Charbonneau said. In fact, if a red dwarf with an Earth-like planet was among the first stars in the universe, some 12 billion years ago, it’s probably still out there.The only way to find out for sure, Charbonneau said, is to look. Charbonneau said he looks forward to starting “tomorrow” on the search for nearby Earth-like planets. Once found, astronomers can examine their atmospheres for the chemicals that are hallmarks of life on Earth, such as oxygen.“Certainly the field of exoplanets has been one of surprises, so we need to go study” these planets, Charbonneau said.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York In another fascinating installment of Hollywood comes to Huntington, acclaimed author, actress and editor Patricia Bosworth will be on hand at the Cinema Arts Centre on March 15 for a special big screening of the 1951 critically acclaimed masterpiece, A Place in the Sun.The classic stars 18-year-old Elizabeth Taylor and Bosworth’s pal, Montgomery Clift, who was at the top of his game at age 29. Bosworth will be hosting the event in conjunction with the release of her new memoir, The Men in My Life, which just came out.Bosworth’s father, Bartley Crum, a well-known lawyer who’d defended “The Hollywood Ten” after they were blacklisted in the McCarthy era, had introduced her to Clift while she was still a teenager.“We’re thrilled to have Patricia Bosworth come to Cinema Arts Centre and put a marvelous film like A Place in the Sun into historical context, as well as the life of her friend, Montgomery Clift,” said Raj Tawney, director of publicity and promotions at CAC. “Bosworth has had a life of ups and downs like all of us, and she’s someone who has pursued her dreams with realistic results. It wasn’t all glamorous, but through her journey, she became one of the top Hollywood biographers. We’re looking forward to having Miss Bosworth share her life stories which are detailed in her new book.”Tawney credits this unique evening to Jud Newborn, Cinema Arts Centre’s curator of special programs, who will be hosting the event.“For year and years, Dr. Jud Newborn has brought Hollywood to Huntington,” said Tawney. “The list of guests is so long and legendary, an outsider would think they’re living on the wrong coast.”Newborn said that he and Bosworth chose the 1951 movie because she not only knew the troubled star but she wrote his definitive biography, which became one of her biggest bestsellers.“But there’s more,” Newborn told the Press, “because the film introduces the coming decade of repression and stultifying conformity which Bosworth covers in her acclaimed new memoir—along with the tremendous burst of wild creativity (and wild living) which that atmosphere unleashed. This was especially the case in Manhattan at the elite Actors Studio, where Patricia studied with such friends as Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda.”She later wrote biographies about them, too.“Clift—like Patricia’s beloved younger brother, whom she lost to suicide—was a closeted homosexual, tortured by the toxic climate of the era,” notes Newborn, “while other friends like Fonda shared Patricia’s struggle to burst free from the suffocating role women were supposed to conform to. A world where men dominated them and pressured them for sex, then punished them for some of the inevitable consequences, like the shame of having to endure abortions, which were illegal, humiliating and often botched procedures.”Before she became an accomplished writer—she’s been a freelancer for the New York Times, a managing editor of Harper’s Bazaar and contributing editor for Vanity Fair—Bosworth acted with Helen Hayes, Audrey Hepburn and Paul Muni, and was directed by Arthur Penn and Elia Kazan.“Patricia flourished,” said Newborn, “all the time fighting a secret numbness that she’s only now overcome, and brilliantly, in her liberating new memoir that reveals a life as dramatic as those of her most famous biographical subjects.”Directed by the legendary George Stevens, A Place in the Sun paired Elizabeth Taylor in her first adult role with Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters in a griping, class-conscious tragic romance, based on Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 best-selling novel, An American Tragedy. This 1951 film, set in upstate New York, is actually a remake of Josef von Sternberg’s 1931 more somber version, which had kept the original title.Nominated for nine Oscars (including Clift for Best Actor and Winters for Best Actress), this Hollywood classic won six: Best Director for Stevens, Best Screenplay for Michael Wilson and Harry Brown, Best Black/White Cinematography for William Mellor, Best B/W Costume Design for Edith Head, as well as Best Dramatic Score and Best Editing. It lost the Best Picture nod to An American in Paris.The on-screen chemistry between Taylor and Cliff apparently worked for Hollywood, which later paired them in 1957’s Raintree County. At the time, Taylor had just finished making a movie with another closeted gay actor, Rock Hudson, in Giant.In 1956, Clift left a dinner party at Taylor’s Beverly Hills house (her marriage to Michael Wilding was on the rocks), drove down the windy road and had a near-fatal car crash, his famous face a bloody pulp. Taylor came to his rescue and kept him alive before the ambulance could arrive. When it did, it was accompanied by a pack of Hollywood photographers, but she reportedly threatened them that if they took one photo of the disfigured actor, she’d never let them photograph her again. They relented.Interestingly, Clift later starred with Marilyn Monroe in the 1961 film, The Misfits. Monroe said he was “the only person I know who is in worse shape than I am.” In 1966, Clift died in his Manhattan apartment, reportedly watching The Misfits on TV. He was 45. Monroe had died three years before in her L.A. home, reportedly an overdose. She was 36.Bosworth knew them all. But tragedy had hounded her, too. Both her father and her brother committed suicide. She named her memoir to honor them.This special evening begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at Cinema Arts Centere, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. The event includes a dessert and Prosecco reception featuring local jazz guitarist Mike Soloway. Tickets are $20 for CAC members, $25 for nonmembers. As a bonus, you get a 20 percent off when you buy a copy of Bosworth’s memoir. For information, call 631-423-7611 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.Featured Photo: Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, starring in A Place in the Sun, photo courtesy Cinema Arts Centre.
This quick video tutorial details goes over nine different ways you can execute an eye-catching freeze frame in Premiere Pro.Top image via ShutterstockRegardless of the kind of video work you’re involved with, freeze framing will inevitably come up at some point. Fortunately, Dylan Osborn is back at it again with this excellent quick tip tutorial video that demonstrates nine different ways to freeze frame in Premiere Pro! These brief lessons will equip you with everything you need to use the eye-catching technique in your next edit.Let’s go over a few basic “how-to” options addressed in the video.Option 1: Shift+EThe tutorial starts by demonstrating the Export Frame shortcut Shift+E that allows you to choose the image format and save where you want. If you want to use the frame in your sequence right then and there, click Import into Project.Option 2: Add Frame HoldIf you want to perform the same action without creating a separate file, you can freeze the clip right on your timeline with the Frame Hold option. Clicking Add Frame Hold cuts the clip and turns the rest of it into a still image. This is extremely quick — however, the rest of your footage will be gone and you’ll have to drag the remainder of the clip back onto your timeline.Option 3: Insert Frame Hold SegmentInsert Frame Hold Segment places a two-second still in the middle of a clip. This option keeps the remainder of your clip in the timeline. This is my preferred method for most of the freeze framing I do — usually in the middle of a scene for expositional or comedic effect.Regardless of what your project is, keeping the clip in the timeline is an essential safety measure (just in case you’re doubting the overall direction of the scene).In addition to exploring topics like Frame Hold Options, this masterful tutorial covers choosing the frame head under the Playhead, the clip’s In or Out Point, or a Specific Timecode from the Source Clip or Sequence Timecode.I recommend checking out the rest of Osborn’s channel out for more expert video editing advice!Are you a fan of the freeze frame? Have you used it in your projects in the past? How do you pull it off? Share in the comments below.
Maharashtra may draw ₹5,000 cr. from contingency fund to help farmers There were rains in Maharashtra during November as well.The Centre is awaiting details from the state government on the extent of damage to crops, he said and added the action will be taken for release of grant after getting information from the state.Replying to another query on the central scheme Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), the minister said about ₹3,100 crore has been made available to Maharashtra.The funds are released after the state government certifies eligible farmers. The Centre has decided to grant ₹600 crore as interim relief for Maharashtra farmers whose kharif crops were affected due to heavy rains in October, Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala said in Rajya Sabha on Friday.Responding to queries during Question Hour, he said crops have been affected due to rains not only in Maharashtra but in many other states as well.“Based on the first request made by the state government, we sent a delegation to assess the damage. Based on inputs of the delegation, we have taken an interim decision to grant ₹600 crore to help farmers. This is not the final one,” he said in the Upper House.Also Read
Bringing back the spirit of devotional music to the capital, the annual Bhakti Sangeet Festival began in the national Capital on Friday. The three-day festival will bring together eleven singers from different genres of devotional music including Chhannulal Mishra, Anuradha Paudwal, Bhuvanesh Komkali, Harshdeep Kaur and the Warsi brothers.Presented by Sahitya Kala Parishad and Department of Art, Culture and Languages, Delhi government, the festival will treat audiences with bhajans of saints like Kabir, Meera and Soordas to sufiana kalams from Punjab and devotional music in its purest form. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting'”Be it in any form, devotional music never fails to strike a chord with people who have the quest to connect to the ultimate reality. In a way, devotional music speaks through a universal language. This is why we are easily moved by all forms of it, no matter which language we speak or which culture we adhere to,” veteran Hindustani classical singer Chhannulal Mishra said.The festival will begin with Paudwal’s performance, to be followed by Kabir bhajans by Bhuvanesh Komkali and an evening of qawwali rendition by the popular Warsi brothers – Naseer and Nazeer Ahmad. The second evening will see the soulful renditions of Radha bhajans by Kumud Diwan and Shubha Joshi performing devotional singing from the Abhang and other folk traditions. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixApart from that, Nitin Sharma will render bhajans of saints Meera and Soordas. The evening will end with popular singer Harshdeep Kaur’s Punjabi Sufi songs.”The sheer variety of devotional music tradition in India is breathtaking. This festival is a unique platform to bring together people from different genres of music and unite them by their love for the devotional music,” Paudwal said. The third day of the festival will see Uday Bhawalkar performing one of the most ancient styles of Hindustani classic music and Shobha Raju’s rendition of Ram bhakti bhajans. The audience will also be treated to Chhannulal Mishra’s recitation from the Ram Charit Manas.The Bhakti Sangeet Festival will be held at Nehru Park, Chanakyapuri, from April 29.
Don’t dawdle.Jim “Griff” Griffith, author of The eBay Bibleand dean of eBay Education, says many new sellers feel overwhelmed at first. “A lot of new sellers spend too much time studying the site, and that’s a mistake, as you can easily get hung up on ‘paralysis by analysis,'” he says. Griff advises you to start small and slow, research the market on eBay, and then put one item up to get started. “If you do it methodically and slowly, you can list your first item in an hour or so and be up and running.”For more ideas on where to find product sources, visit our Sourcing Productsarea. Step 3: Manage the Auction ProcessThere are several types of eBay auctions. In a basic auction, you post your item with a starting price and wait for bidders to drive the price up until a closing time, which can be three, five, seven or 10 days later, when the auction ends. You are then obligated to sell to the highest bidder. 13 min read Legal and Tax Tips for eBay SellersWhen you sell on eBay, you’re subject to most all federal and state laws, taxes and rules that apply to retail businesses generally. Here are some tips to help you stay out of trouble on eBay:1. Set yourself up as a legal business.Get federal and state tax ID numbers for your business, as well as any licenses and permits your state requires for you to sell your merchandise. If you’re using a trade name, register it with your city, town or county clerk’s office as your state law requires.2. Register for your state’s sales taxes.If the winning bidder is a resident of your state, you’ll have to pay sales tax on the bid amount. Put the following statement on all eBay auction pages: “Residents of State X [your state] must add ___% sales tax to their winning bid.”3. Sell only legitimate merchandise.If a random street vendor offers you a shipment of “genuine Rolex watches,” watch out. Competing eBay sellers offering Rolex watches and Rolex itself can report you to eBay for selling illegal knockoffs, and eBay will cancel your auctions. Find out if the stuff you’re planning to buy is legitimate by visiting eBay’s Verified Rights Owner program.4. Resist the temptation to “shill.”If you (or a friend or relative) are ever tempted to bid against legitimate bidders in an attempt to drive up the price of your products (an illegal practice called “shilling”), think twice. Not only will eBay’s fraud department shut you down permanently if they catch you, but many state attorneys general are bringing criminal charges against flagrant offenders, with eBay’s cooperation. About Me:A free page that enables you to describe your business and any relevant information that would make buyers feel more comfortable buying from you. Register Now » Step 2: Find Stuff to SellThis can be the biggest challenge in setting up an eBay business. Keep these points in mind: You can also set a reserve price, which is a hidden minimum price that is the lowest amount you’re willing to accept. Buyers are not shown the reserve price, and if it is not met, you are not obligated to sell the item.If you have two or more identical items for sale, you can post them in the same auction by using a Dutch (or Multiple Item) Auction.If you don’t like auctions, eBay also has a “Buy It Now” feature that gives bidders the option to buy your item immediately for a set price. Or you can choose a fixed-price listing, which simply puts the item up for sale at a set price, with no bidding allowed.To sell on eBay, you’ll pay a listing fee to post your merchandise and a final value fee (a small percentage of the sale price) when the item sells. These fees change from time to time, so be sure to check the eBay site to make sure you can pay all the fees and still make a profit.A number of books offer advice on reducing the amount of time and effort necessary to create eBay auction pages, such as Marsha Collier’s eBay Timesaving Techniques For Dummies, Janelle Elms’ eBay Your Businessand Joseph T. Sinclair’s eBay Business the Smart Way. Entrepreneur magazine’s Startup Guide #1824, How to Start a Business on eBay, is available at www.smallbizbooks.com.Software can also help you streamline the auction management process. Listing programs, such as Turbo-Lister (available for free from eBay) and Zdrop, enable you to create multiple auction pages on your PC and upload them as a “batch” to eBay. Full-service auction-management programs like Auction-Helperand Zoovyhandle almost everything, from inventory management to label printing. May 1, 2005 Step 4: Provide Great Customer ServiceBuyers will ask you questions about your merchandise, and if you don’t respond promptly, they won’t bid. Top-notch service also means shipping your goods to the winning buyer within two to three days after the auction closes, or as soon as you receive payment.When an eBay auction is completed, the goods shipped and payment made, you and your buyer can comment on each other in eBay’s Feedback Forum. Buyers rely on the Feedback Forum to determine how reliable a seller is. But watch out: If buyers aren’t happy with your customer service or your merchandise, they will post negative or neutral feedback. Many buyers will not deal with a seller who has less than a specified number of positive feedback postings in the forum, or a seller who has too many negative feedback postings.Unfortunately, some customers will threaten to leave negative feedback if you don’t do what they want, even if they are being unreasonable. Most of the time, you’re best advised to meet their demands because “the customer is always right,” and because you want to avoid negative feedback on eBay at all costs.In cases where a buyer posts negative feedback that is inaccurate or unfair, eBay affords you a limited opportunity to respond to the negative posting and tell buyers your side of the story. In extreme cases, eBay’s SquareTrade service helps mediate disputes between eBay buyers and sellers. Step 5: Build a Brand on eBayOn eBay, sellers are offered a number of tools to help establish their brand identities, including: Customizing Tools:A number of features (accessible from your “My eBay” page) that enable you to make your pages stand out from others offering similar merchandise.Like any marketplace, eBay is constantly changing. “A lot of people get set in a comfort zone, especially if they have an initial rush of success,” says Griff. “If you get to the point that you really feel comfortable you know what you’re doing on eBay, I guarantee you there’s a brick flying at the side of your head at 80 miles an hour that you’re not seeing because you’re not looking in that direction.”You can expect pricing and demand on eBay to change over time. As more and more people start operating on eBay, competition will increase and prices may decline slightly. Still, keep in mind that eBay has reached only a small fraction of its potential worldwide market. And it will continue to grow even faster as internet access becomes more readily available world-wide. “EBay is the leader in internet auctions,” says Morphy. “It has such a strong hold on the market and such a huge following, you can’t beat it.” Learn how to pack and ship goods.Calculating shipping costs properly is also important. To help you with this, eBay, FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service all offer shipping calculators on their websites. Buyers really hate it if they think you’re gouging them on the shipping and handling fees. Pick the right product.Select something you’ll enjoy selling and that stands a good chance of making a profit. Avoid merchandise you know absolutely nothing about, that’s difficult to describe in a short paragraph, that won’t photograph well or that’s tricky to ship without damage. Sell related merchandise.”If you make it easy for people to buy something, they will want to buy more from you–and you have to have related merchandise in stock,” advises Cash. “So, for example, if you’re selling collectibles, you should also carry the display racks, books and other accessories those particular collectors will want to have.” Customer Service and Branding eBay Stores: A virtual storefront that puts all of your current auctions together in one place, so buyers can see everything you’re selling at a glance. You’ll pay a monthly fee based on the level of store services you want, plus additional fees for items listed and sold. Consider cost and sale price.”Buyers and sellers on eBay set the price–you don’t,” says Melissa Sands, 35, who started selling on eBay in 1999 to help her husband, a comic-book dealer, get rid of excess inventory. Today, Sands runs Sands-o-Time, an eBay store selling pottery, porcelain, glass, silver, costume jewelry and more with sales averaging $8,000 to $12,000 per month. Before you buy anything, find out what other similar items have sold for on eBay and ask yourself if there’s a good chance you will make money. This story appears in the May 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Other eBay vendors often buy tons of stuff in bulk lots, and there’s a lot of merchandise they just don’t want to sell. Let other sellers know you’re looking to buy certain categories of merchandise and will take excess inventory off their hands. Finding Items to SellAs eBay becomes more popular, it’s getting harder to find quality products to sell without bumping into other eBay entrepreneurs. Here are some product sourcing strategies your competitors might not have thought about (yet):Estate attorneys are deluged with requests from grieving relatives to help them “clean out Mom’s place” because they either can’t bear to do it or don’t have the time. Send a letter to the estate attorneys in your area (get a list from your local bar association), and tell them you specialize in online estate sales of any size. Editor’s note: Looking for our online exclusives? You can find our eBay Business Center hereand our free downloadable PDF, “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Doing Business Online,” here.Ten years after being formed in 1995, eBay has become the world’s leading online marketplace for all sorts of goods. At any given time, 29 million items are available worldwide on eBay, with more than 3.5 million new items added every day and $1,000 worth of merchandise sold every second. The online auction site has 135 million registered users in 32 international markets, and more than 430,000 people in the United States alone make a full- or part-time living on eBay.If you think eBay is just about bobblehead dolls and Pez dispensers, think again. While $2.2 billion worth of goods in collectibles were sold on eBay in 2004, antiques and collectibles ranked only No. 6 among eBay’s sales categories. The five highest were: automobiles and auto supplies ($11.1 billion); consumer electronics ($3.5 billion); computers ($3.0 billion); clothes and accessories ($2.9 billion); and books, movies and music ($2.4 billion).Real people are making big bucks on eBay–and thousands have even reached PowerSeller status by maintaining at least $1,000 per month in sales for three consecutive months. Case in point: Angie Cash, 37, a stay-at-home mom who started selling on eBay nearly six years ago because it was “something I could do and watch the kids at the same time.” Today, her Kennesaw, Georgia, company, Cashco1000 Inc., sells thousands of home-decoration and other items each month on eBay and expects to break $500,000 in sales on eBay this year.Even owners of existing businesses have found success on eBay by using it as an adjunct to their brick-and-mortar operations. Dan Morphy, 33, runs the Adamstown Antique Gallery, a 10,000-square-foot antiques mall in Denver, Pennsylvania. After a few successful eBay auctions, he started offering the antiques vendors who rent space in his gallery the opportunity to sell five items a month on eBay, at no charge other than out-of-pocket expenses. Within two years, Morphy not only had a full gallery of dealers, but was also listing 700 pieces a month and had exceeded $2.5 million in eBay sales.If you dream of building your own eBay business, it’s easier than you think. We’ve distilled what you need to know into five basic steps. Step 1: Register Your BusinessGetting set up as an eBay seller is a simple process that takes just a few minutes. You’ll be required to provide your name, address, e-mail and phone number, as well as a credit card number and your checking account information. This information is used to confirm your identity–which protects the integrity of eBay’s operation–and to collect auction fees.Since every eBay business is a retail business, you should also register your business with federal, state and local tax authorities and consider forming a corporation or an LLC to protect you against legal liability. (For more legal issues you should know about before you start, go here.)Most eBay sellers are also encouraged to open an account with PayPal, an online payment service owned by eBay that enables buyers to pay you by credit card or by debiting their checking accounts, without you having to obtain merchant card accounts. Find Stuff to Sell Cliff Ennico, best known as co-host of PBS TV series Money Hunt, is author of Small Business Survival Guide and a faculty member of eBay University, where he teaches the legal and tax aspects of starting an eBay business. Legal and Tax Tips for eBay Sellers Make sure you have enough storage space for your merchandise.Don’t start ordering pallets of large items if your basement or garage is small, or if your front door isn’t big enough to squeeze the crates through. Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Take out an ad in your local newspaper and offer to take consignments of stuff to sell on eBay for a small upfront fee plus a percentage of each winning bid. Have your lawyer prepare a one-page consignment agreement for each new seller to sign. Keep in mind there’s growing competition in this field (including nationwide franchises such as iSold It and UPS-affiliated QwikDrop), and your state may require you to get an auctioneer’s license before you legally can take consignments.
6 min read November 17, 2017 Artificial intelligence developments are occurring in countless industries and at an increasingly rapid rate. But are these developments occurring without the proper safeguards?There’s no way to know for sure at this point, but it’s clear that this concern is in the air. In late October, a lifelike, AI-based, female robot named Sophia mocked the idea by telling her interviewer that he had been “reading too much Elon Musk.” Of course, Sophia herself expressed a desire to “destroy humans” not long ago.Related: Elon Musk Says Competing for the Best AI Could Lead to World War IIIAside from far-fetched concerns over “Terminator” movie scenarios, there’s plenty for AI developers to be concerned about, from security and safety to just doing the job well enough that companies feel justified in — ideally, delighted by — switching to new systems. All that requires care and the right approach.Getting AI right the first time.K.R. Sanjiv, chief technology officer of Wipro Limited, understands this struggle. Wipro is a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company. Sanjiv works on the front lines of the AI revolution and thus appreciates the need for honing the effectiveness and reliability of AI projects in development.“In creating an AI system,” he said, “my team worked to determine what the ‘right’ ecosystem for AI looks like. For our system to continuously become smarter, we knew an ecosystem made up of technology, data, industry-specific knowledge, research and security would be necessary.”Software companies would do well to follow Sanjiv’s lead. An AI system is a multicomponent one, and it will only be as strong as its weakest piece. Even a first-rate AI system would be useless if it contained a glaring security flaw. Sanjiv added, “Without each of these key ingredients, even a human wouldn’t be able to execute what we ask of AI, meaning the ecosystem plays a vital role in such an initiative’s success.”Related: 3 Ways AI Is Upending the B2B Sales ExperienceSafeguarding your company’s AI future.It’s inevitable: The world’s collective future will increasingly involve AI. Putting the right ecosystem in place will ensure companies are prepared to meet this future head-on. In order to prepare now, here are four practices to incorporate to safely accelerate your company’s forward AI trajectory.1. Avoid overconfidence.In 2015, Wired ran an eye-opening piece showing how AI systems for visual recognition can be fooled with what should be “no-brainer” test images. The tested systems — described as “leading image-recognizing neural networks” — failed miserably, misidentifying formless abstract shapes as baseballs and African Gray Parrots. Even worse, the systems had 99 percent confidence in the accuracy of their identifications.Such misplaced confidence is mildly problematic when it underpins a system providing nightlife recommendations or apparel suggestions based on local weather conditions. But what if an AI system is confidently wrong about a customer’s financial records, military operations (even making moral decisions in combat) or emergency management?For these reasons, the first step always ought to be to retain a healthy skepticism regarding the capabilities of one’s AI systems.2. Test systems effectively.The right attitude is a start, but alone it is not enough. To ensure effectiveness and safety, AI systems need to be rigorously tested under the right conditions.Testing must be done before an AI system is deployed in a real-world application to head off potential unforeseen problems before they do any damage. For example, researchers at RAND simulated the design of different types of fertilizers intended to reduce atmospheric carbon and fed an AI system the characteristics of different fertilizers as learning input.At first, the system seemed on target, but once the AI was allowed to consider delayed-release agents that are often used in fertilizers, it bypassed EPA safeguards for protecting the environment. Because all this was known to the researchers conducting the simulation, they were able to prevent the implementation of policy recommendations that could have had disastrous environmental results. Such testing should apply to any high-stakes domain, such as transportation, policing, military operations, medical device and drug development, childcare and many others.3. Build in accountability.Of course, testing can never offer perfectly accurate modeling of the real world. As Bas Steunebrink, a researcher at the Swiss AI lab IDSIA, told Futurism.com: “We cannot accurately describe the environment in all its complexity; we cannot foresee what environments the agent will find itself in in the future.”So even after simulation trials clear an AI project for deployment in the real world, vigilance — and mechanisms for response if something goes wrong — is critical. Project leaders and companies must maintain clear and explicit accountability standards for their AI systems.Good auditing is a best practice here, as is encryption with the most up-to-date security practices. Imagine the PR catastrophe that could result from the hacking of a system that has control over the personal information of millions of clients.Related: 4 Surprising Ways AI Is Changing How We Work With Words (and What That Means for Marketers)4. Take a page from Tony Robbins.Any good businessperson knows that to stay competitive, you never stop driving to get better. It turns out that life for a competitive AI system is no different.Steunebrink’s research is dedicated to instilling this principle in the AI world through what he calls “recursive self-improvement,” in which AI systems are empowered to monitor their own performance and adjust themselves accordingly to produce enhanced future results. This happens over time and with increasing experience in the problem domain.When 9-year-old kids do this on the violin or piano, we call it practicing. AI systems fitted with recursive self-improvement capabilities are not much different — but the results can be startling. AI systems iterate through problem sets far faster than any human ever could, and unlike kids, they don’t get tired or stop practicing to catch their favorite TV show.Steunebrink’s approach, which he calls EXPAI (experience-based artificial intelligence), aims to create AI systems that take baby steps but then make the micro-adjustments necessary, based on performance feedback, to tune themselves so that future actions are more accurate. It’s a potentially powerful approach that companies should keep in mind.The AI future is already here, but instead of fretting about the sorts of doomsday scenarios that are yielding press coverage for Elon Musk, smart companies are looking to use sensible principles to create robust opportunities for AI deployment in their markets.It’s an exciting time. Fortunately, by following the practices outlined above and working with companies that build integrity into their AI approach, big strides will come quickly, bringing with them products and services that will enthrall customers and improve 21st-century life for everyone. This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Free