NASA Appoints First Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer

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In a significant move to bolster its leadership in artificial intelligence, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced on Monday the appointment of David Salvagnini as the agency’s first chief artificial intelligence (AI) officer, effective immediately. Salvagnini, who has been serving as NASA’s chief data officer, will now take on an expanded role, reflecting the growing importance of AI in NASA’s diverse missions.

NASA has long utilized a variety of AI tools to support its missions and research projects. These tools are pivotal in analyzing data to uncover trends and patterns and in developing autonomous systems capable of supporting spacecraft and aircraft. “Artificial intelligence has been safely used at NASA for decades, and as this technology expands, it can accelerate the pace of discovery,” said Nelson. He emphasized the importance of maintaining NASA’s leadership in both the advancement and responsible use of AI technology. Nelson further stated, “In this new role, David will lead NASA’s efforts to guide our agency’s responsible use of AI in the cosmos and on Earth to benefit all humanity.”

Salvagnini’s appointment aligns with President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. As the chief AI officer, Salvagnini is now tasked with aligning the strategic vision and planning for AI usage across NASA. His role also includes championing AI innovation and supporting the development and risk management of AI tools, platforms, and training programs.

In his expanded role, Salvagnini will continue NASA’s collaboration with other government agencies, academic institutions, industry partners, and experts in the field. This collaborative approach is aimed at ensuring that NASA remains at the forefront of AI technology. Salvagnini, who joined NASA in June 2023, brings with him more than 20 years of experience in technology leadership within the intelligence community. Before joining NASA, he served as the director of the architecture and integration group and chief architect at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Salvagnini’s extensive background includes leading enterprise-level IT research and development, engineering, and operations, advancing data, IT, and AI programs. His military service as a communications and computer systems officer in the Air Force for 21 years further solidifies his expertise. NASA continues to develop recommendations on leveraging emerging AI technology to best serve its goals and missions. This includes tasks such as sifting through Earth science imagery to identify areas of interest, searching for data on exoplanets using the James Webb Space Telescope, and scheduling communications from the Perseverance Mars rover through the Deep Space Network.

Prior to Salvagnini’s appointment, NASA’s Chief Scientist Kate Calvin served as the acting responsible AI official. With Salvagnini now at the helm as the chief AI officer, NASA is poised to make significant strides in the responsible use of AI to further its mission of exploration and discovery.


Image: NASA

Source: LULOP

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