NASA Names First Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has appointed David Salvagnini as the agency’s new Chief Artificial Intelligence (AI) Officer, effective immediately. This role expands on Salvagnini’s current position as Chief Data Officer.

NASA utilizes a wide array of AI tools to benefit humanity, supporting missions and research projects across the agency, analyzing data to reveal trends and patterns, and developing systems capable of autonomously 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. “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.

This appointment aligns with President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. Salvagnini is now responsible for aligning the strategic vision and planning for AI usage across NASA. He will champion AI innovation, supporting the development and risk management of tools, platforms, and training.

In his expanded role, Salvagnini will continue NASA’s collaboration with other government agencies, academic institutions, industry partners, and other experts to ensure the agency remains at the cutting edge of AI technology.

Salvagnini joined NASA in June 2023 after more than 20 years in technology leadership within the intelligence community. Prior to his role at NASA, he served in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as Director of the Architecture and Integration Group and Chief Architect. He has also held various roles leading enterprise-level IT research and development, engineering, and operations, advancing data, IT, and AI programs. Salvagnini served in the Air Force for 21 years, retiring in May 2005 as a Communications and Computer Systems Officer.

NASA continues to develop recommendations for leveraging emerging AI technology to best serve its goals and missions, from sifting through Earth science imagery to identifying areas of interest, to searching for data on planets outside our solar system from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, and scheduling communications from the Perseverance Mars rover through the Deep Space Network, and more.

Before Salvagnini’s appointment, the agency’s Chief Scientist, Kate Calvin, served as NASA’s acting Responsible AI Official.

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