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NASA Appoints David Salvagnini as First Chief AI Officer NASA Appoints David Salvagnini as First Chief AI Officer
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced on Monday that David Salvagnini has been named the agency’s first Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, a... NASA Appoints David Salvagnini as First Chief AI Officer

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced on Monday that David Salvagnini has been named the agency’s first Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, a role expanding his current responsibilities as Chief Data Officer. According to the space agency, this appointment is effective immediately, with a focus on how AI can benefit humanity.

Salvagnini’s new role highlights NASA’s use of AI tools across its missions and research projects. These tools are integral to analyzing data to reveal trends and patterns and developing autonomous systems to support spacecraft and aircraft operations.

Nelson emphasized the importance of AI in accelerating the pace of discovery, stating, “Artificial intelligence has been safely used at NASA for decades, and as this technology expands, it can accelerate the pace of discovery. 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 also aligns with President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. As Chief AI Officer, Salvagnini will align the strategic vision and planning for AI usage across NASA, championing AI innovation and supporting the development and risk management of AI tools, platforms, and training.

Salvagnini’s expanded role also includes continuing NASA’s collaboration with 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, bringing over 20 years of technology leadership experience from the intelligence community. Before his tenure at NASA, he served as the Director of the Architecture and Integration Group and Chief Architect at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

His extensive background includes leading enterprise-level IT research and development, engineering, and operations, advancing data, IT, and AI programs. Salvagnini also served in the Air Force for 21 years, retiring in May 2005 as a Communications and Computer Systems Officer.

For those who may not know, NASA’s use of AI spans various applications, from sifting through Earth science imagery to identify areas of interest, to searching for exoplanet data using the James Webb Space Telescope.

AI also plays a crucial role in scheduling communications for the Perseverance Mars rover through the Deep Space Network. NASA continues to develop recommendations on leveraging emerging AI technology to best serve its goals and missions.

Before Salvagnini’s appointment, NASA’s Chief Scientist Kate Calvin served as the acting responsible AI official. Salvagnini’s leadership marks a significant step forward in ensuring that NASA remains at the forefront of AI advancement, ensuring responsible and innovative use of AI technology.

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