NASA names David Salvagnini the new Chief AI officer

According to the official release, the role expands Salvagnini’s current role as chief data officer.

NASA uses a wide variety of AI tools to benefit humanity, including 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 is in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. Salvagnini now is responsible for aligning the strategic vision and planning for AI usage across NASA. He serves as a champion for AI innovation, supporting the development and risk management of tools, platforms, and training.

In his expanded capacity, Salvagnini will continue NASA’s strong collaboration with other government agencies, academic institutions, industry partners, and other experts. This collaborative approach ensures that the agency is not only on the cutting edge of AI technology but also includes diverse perspectives and expertise, making our AI advancements more comprehensive and impactful.

Salvagnini, a seasoned professional, joined NASA in June 2023 after an illustrious career spanning over 20 years in technology leadership in the intelligence community. His previous roles include serving the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as director of the architecture and integration group and chief architect, where he honed his skills and deepened his understanding of AI technology.

Salvagnini also worked in a variety of roles leading enterprise-level IT research and development, engineering, and operations advancing data, IT, and artificial intelligence programs. David served in the Air Force for 21 years, retiring in May 2005 as a communications and computer systems officer.

NASA continues developing recommendations on leveraging emerging AI technology to best serve our 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, scheduling communications from the Perseverance Mars rover through the Deep Space Network, and more.

Prior to Salvagnini’s appointment, the agency’s Chief Scientist, Kate Calvin, served as NASA’s acting responsible AI official.

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