Monday, June 17, 2024

NASA appoints first chief artificial intelligence officer

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NASA on Monday appointed David Salvagnini as the agency’s first chief artificial intelligence (AI) officer, in an extension of his current role as the chief data officer.

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The US’ space agency chief Bill Nelson said Salvagnini will lead “NASA’s efforts to guide the agency’s responsible use of AI in the cosmos and on Earth to benefit all humanity.”

Salvagnini, responsible for aligning the strategic vision and planning for AI usage across NASA, will look to champion AI innovation, supporting the development and risk management of tools, platforms, and training.

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

Salvagnini joined NASA in June 2023, after more than 20 years of working in technology leadership in the intelligence community. Prior to his role at the space agency, he served the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as director of the architecture and integration group and chief architect, as per a NASA release.

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Salvagnini led enterprise level IT research and development, engineering, and operations advancing data, IT, and artificial intelligence programs. He served in the Air Force for 21 years, retiring in May 2005 as a communications and computer systems officer.

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

How does NASA use AI?

A wide variety of AI tools are used by NASA since decades to benefit humanity from supporting missions and research projects across the agency, analysing data to reveal trends and patterns, and developing systems capable of supporting spacecraft and aircraft autonomously.

The use of AI ranges 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.

AI tools can automate time-consuming processes like program and project reviews, allowing NASA to streamline decision making, save resources, and leverage the full potential of its workforce.


 

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