Invited Talks, Seminars, Interviews, and Selected Presentations:
See also: Publications, Google Scholar Citations List, Resume.

"Real life tends to cancel out." (Carroll's Razor)


James L. Carroll, "The Book of Mormon, an American Scripture", forum delivered at the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, September 15, 2013.
Abstract: The Book of Mormon is a uniquely American scripture, which launched a uniquely American religion. We will briefly overview the complex and fascinating history of Joseph Smith the Mormon prophet, his claims regarding the Book of Mormon, as well as the contents of the text itself. We will also outline the doctrinal teachings and theological implications of the text for the nearly 15 million people who believe in both its divine inspiration and in its historical reality.
Link.

James L. Carroll, "Practical Considerations for Analysis By Synthesis, a Real World Example using DARHT Radiography," invited Talk, The 1089th American Mathematical Society (AMS) Meeting, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder Co, April 13-14, 2013.
Abstract: The mathematical theory of inverse problems has been intensely explored for many years. One common solution to inverse problems involves analysis by synthesis, where a forward model produces a synthetic data set, given model inputs, and optimization is used to find model inputs that minimize the difference between the real data and the synthetic data. Some beautiful mathematical results demonstrate that under ideal situations, this procedure returns the MAP estimate for the parameters of the model. However, many practical considerations exist which makes this procedure much harder to actually use and implement. In this presentation, we will evaluate some of these practical considerations, including: Hypothesis testing over confidence, overfitting systematic errors instead of overfitting noise, optimization uncertainties, and complex measurement system calibration errors. The thrust of this work will be to attempt to qualitatively and quantitatively assess the errors in density reconstructions for the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrotest Facility (DARHT) and LANL.
Presentation slides: pptx.

James L. Carroll, "The Evolution of God, an Analysis of what the Theory of Evolution has to Say about the Potential Existence and Nature of God," The 2013 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, Salt Lake City, Utah, 5 April 2013.
Abstract: An exploration of what the theory of evolution might say about the existence and nature of God. We propose that evolution demonstrates that a complex being such as God, is unlikely to have arisen without simpler predecessors, and so is most likely subject to an evolutionary process somewhat similar to our own. We therefore propose that such a being is most likely subject to natural laws, and is not super natural in any way. We note that according to the evidence of evolution on earth, whenever evolution creates complexity (which it does not always do), it does so in certain ways, including collectivism and cooperation, specialization and trade. These patterns can be used to extrapolate forward to determine the sort of being that an evolved god might be. We conclude by evaluating the probability that such a being actually exists somewhere in the vastness of the universe or even in the greater vastness of the multiverse.
Watch here.

Interview of James L. Carroll and Lincoln Cannon, by Clay Painter and Heather C., "Mormon Transhumanism," for the Mormon Expositor, 16 Jan. 2013.
Abstract: We discuss issues related to Mormonism and Transhumanism, and introduce the Mormon Transhumanist Association. Specifically we discuss issues such as the possible existence of God, the problems with the fundamentalist readings of scripture, and the reasons why the traditional Mormon theology leads naturally to transhumanism.
Listen here.

James L. Carroll, "Amplifying the Wisdom of the Crowd, Building and Measuring Expert Consensus for Nonproliferation Issues," presentation given at The INMM Taos Technical Meeting (LA-UR-12-21784), Taos New Mexico, May 31, 2012.
Abstract: Scientific and cultural progress mostly takes place in the marketplace of ideas. The internet has largely changed how this marketplace functions. Although it has brought many improvements, it has also created a new set of problems. We propose a web service that can be used to crowdsource the process of knowledge acquisition and of knowledge summary, mediate disagreements, and improve discourse on controversial issues, thereby improving the efficiency of the marketplace of ideas. Our approach involves a specific technique for integrating: a forum; a wiki organized into separate camps, with camps organized into a hierarchical structure; a survey system based upon camp support; a mechanism for dynamically reorganizing the structure of the camp hierarchy while mediating user disagreements; and a customizable mechanism for determining how votes are weighted based on credentials or expert assignment. A version of this approach has been implemented, released as open source, and a beta test has gone live. Initial use seems to validate the merits of this approach.
Presentation slides: pptx.

James L. Carroll, "Epiphenomenalism, the Problem with Property Dualism," presented at The 2012 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, Salt Lake City, Utah, 6 April 2012.
Abstract: We show that theories of qualia based upon ``property dualism'' (sometimes called ``natural dualism'' and ``dual aspect theories'') lead to a form of epiphenomenalism, the situation where our behavior does not causally flow from our subjective experiences. That would mean that our claims, beliefs, and memories about our subjective experiences do not directly arise from our real subjective experiences. We will show that this ultimately leads to what I call ``zombie solipsism'' and to cognitive instability. This argument should allow us to reject ``property dualism'' in all its forms. If we reject property dualism, we must continue to search for some other acceptable theory of qualia.
Watch on youtube.

James L. Carroll, "Physics-Based Constraints in the Forward Modeling Analysis of Time-Correlated Image Data," invited Talk, The 1080th American Mathematical Society (AMS) Meeting, Washington DC, March 17-18th, 2012.
Abstract: The forward-model approach has been shown to produce accurate reconstructions of scientific measurements for single-time image data. Here we extend the approach to a series of images that are correlated in time using the physics-based constraints that are often available with scientific imaging. The constraints are implemented through a representational bias in the model and, owing to the smooth nature of the physics evolution in the specified model, provide an effective temporal regularization. Unlike more general temporal regularization techniques, this restricts the space of solutions to those that are physically realizable. We explore the performance of this approach on a simple radiographic imaging problem of a simulated object evolving in time. We demonstrate that the constrained simultaneous analysis of the image sequence outperforms the independent forward modeling analysis over a range of degrees of freedom in the physics constraints, including when the physics model is under-constrained. Further, this approach outperforms the independent analysis over a large range of signal-to-noise levels.
Presentation slides: pptx.

James L. Carroll, "The Bayesian Inference Engine, an Outsider, Computer Scientist's Perspective," given at The BIE Users Group Meeting, Los Alamos NM., October 11-14th, 2011.
Abstract: Evaluating the advantages and drawbacks of the current BIE software, and mapping out potential future directions. Slides available upon request.

James L. Carroll, "Turning Bayesian Model Averaging Into Bayesian Model Combination," invited Talk, The Los Alamos Center for Nonlinear Studies (CNLS), Los Alamos NM. October 6, 2011. LA-UR-11-05664.
Abstract: Bayesian methods are theoretically optimal in many situations. Bayesian model averaging is generally considered the standard model for creating ensembles of learners using Bayesian methods, but this technique is often outperformed by more ad hoc methods in empirical studies. The reason for this failure has important theoretical implications for our understanding of why ensembles work. It has been proposed that Bayesian model averaging struggles in practice because it accounts for uncertainty about which model is correct but still operates under the assumption that only one of them is. In order to more effectively access the benefits inherent in ensembles, Bayesian strategies should therefore be directed more towards model combination rather than the model selection implicit in Bayesian model averaging. This work provides empirical verification for this hypothesis using several different Bayesian model combination approaches tested on a wide variety of classification problems. We show that even the most simplistic of Bayesian model combination strategies outperforms the traditional ad hoc techniques of bagging and boosting, as well as outperforming BMA over a wide variety of cases. This suggests that the power of ensembles does not come from their ability to account for model uncertainty, but instead comes from the changes in representational and preferential bias inherent in the process of combining several different models.
Annotated presentation slides: pptx.

James L. Carroll, "Turning Bayesian Model Averaging Into Bayesian Model Combination," invited Talk, The 1075th American Mathematical Society (AMS) Meeting, Salt Lake City UT., October 22-23, 2011.
Abstract: Bayesian model averaging is generally considered the standard model for creating ensembles of learners using Bayesian methods, but this technique is often outperformed by more ad hoc methods in empirical studies. The reason for this failure has important theoretical implications for our understanding of why ensembles work. It has been proposed that Bayesian model averaging struggles in practice because it accounts for uncertainty about which model is correct but still operates under the assumption that only one of them is. In order to more effectively access the benefits inherent in ensembles, Bayesian strategies should therefore be directed more towards model combination rather than the model selection implicit in Bayesian model averaging. This work provides empirical verification for this hypothesis using several different Bayesian model combination approaches tested on a wide variety of classification problems. We show that even the most simplistic of Bayesian model combination strategies outperforms the traditional ad hoc techniques of bagging and boosting, as well as outperforming BMA over a wide variety of cases.
For slides on this subject, see the slides for the longer, more complete CNLS version of this presentation above.

James L. Carroll, "Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship," invited Talk, Brigham Young University, 2010. LA-UR 11-00201.
Abstract: Since the end of nuclear testing, the reliability of our nation’s nuclear weapon stockpile has been performed using sub-critical hydrodynamic testing. These tests involve some pretty “extreme” radiography. We will be discussing the challenges and solutions to these problems provided by DARHT (the world’s premiere hydrodynamic testing facility) and the BIE or Bayesian Inference Engine (a powerful radiography analysis software tool). We will discuss the application of Bayesian image analysis techniques to this important and difficult problem. 
Presentation slides: ppt.

James L. Carroll "An Expanded View of the Israelite Scapegoat, A Representation of Physical and Spiritual Death," invited talk for Temples and Ritual in Antiquity, presented by the BYU Religious Studies Center and SANE's Studia Antiqua, Provo UT., 7 November, 2008.
Abstract: There have been many divergent interpretations of the scapegoat in LDS and other Christian commentaries. Some see the scapegoat as a symbol of Christ, others as a symbol of Satan. In order to better understand the spiritual significance of the scapegoat, this paper analyzes several parallels that are similar to the Day of Atonement, specifically rituals and stories involving the elements of death, banishment, release and substitution. Usually one person or group is put to death, and another person or group is either cast out or released. It is then possible to understand the first goat (the Lord's goat) and the second goat (the scapegoat) in terms of physical and spiritual death respectively. Spiritual death involves banishment or exile, and is a common punishment in the ancient world. It is also one of the fundamental penalties assigned to sin in the scriptures. If we interpret the scapegoat in this way, then it does not directly represent Christ or Satan. Rather it represents a vicarious substitute, suffering the penalty of banishment on Israel's behalf. Such an interpretation can explain how some have seen the Savior in the scapegoat since he took spiritual death upon himself for those who repent, while at the same time others have seen Satan in the scapegoat since he was banished from the Father's presence, thus suffering spiritual death for his unrepented sins.
The presentations were recorded by the conference and are available at: Google Video and YouTube. The paper is currently unavailable because the draft is currently in submission to the Religious Studies Center for publication. Some of the ideas presented here were published in Selections From the Seventh Annual BYU Religious Education Student Symposium, 2005, which is is available here: doc. A draft of the more complete version of these ideas, the paper behind this presentation is available upon request.

Heal, K., Griffin, C., Ringger, E., McClanahan, P., Carroll, J., Heaton, J., et al., "A Computational Perspective on Syriac Corpus Development and Annotation," presentation given at the XIXth Congress of the IOSOT, the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament, and ISLP, the International Syriac Language Project, July 2007.

James L. Carroll and Stephen Ricks, "Temples of the Ancient World," weeklong seminar given at Brigham Young University Education Week, 2007.

James L. Carroll, "Computer Security for the LDS Family," weeklong seminar given at Brigham Young University Education Week 2007.

James L. Carroll, "Computer Security for the LDS Family," weeklong seminar given at Brigham Young University Education Week 2006.