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NASA appoints David Salvagnini as first chief artificial intelligence officer

Prior to David Salvagnini’s appointment, NASA's Chief Scientist Kate Calvin acted as the agency's lead for responsible AI.

NASA David Salvagnini

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) named David Salvagnini as its first chief AI officer on Monday. This expands on Salvagnini’s existing role as the agency’s chief data officer.

“Artificial intelligence has been safely used at NASA for decades, and as this technology expands, it can accelerate the pace of discovery,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “It’s important that we remain at the forefront of advancement and responsible use. 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,” Nelson added.

David Salvagnini’s appointment aligns with President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. His responsibilities include aligning the agency’s strategic vision and planning for AI usage, championing AI innovation, and supporting the development and risk management of AI tools, platforms, and training. In his expanded capacity, Salvagnini will continue to foster collaboration with government agencies, academic institutions, industry partners, and experts to keep NASA at the forefront of AI technology.

Experienced Leader to Guide Responsible AI Implementation

Salvagnini brings a wealth of experience to this new role. Prior to joining NASA in June 2023, Salvagnini held key roles such as Director of the Architecture and Integration Group and Chief Architect at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. During his tenure, he led initiatives in IT research and development, engineering, and operations to advance data, IT, and AI programs. Salvagnini’s distinguished military career in the Air Force, where he served for 21 years, further enriches his expertise in communications and computer systems.

A Decade of AI Innovation at NASA

NASA has a long history of utilizing AI for various purposes. From analyzing Earth science data to identify areas of interest to searching for exoplanets with the James Webb Space Telescope, AI plays a crucial role in supporting missions and research. Additionally, AI helps schedule communications with rovers on Mars and automate time-consuming processes, allowing NASA to streamline decision-making and optimize resource allocation.

With David Salvagnini at the helm, NASA is poised to embrace the transformative power of AI while ensuring its responsible and ethical application in space exploration and scientific discovery. Previously, NASA’s Chief Scientist, Kate Calvin, acted as the agency’s lead for responsible AI.

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