Who is David Salvagnini, Nasa’s first chief artificial intelligence officer

NEW DELHI: Nasa administrator Bill Nelson announced the appointment of David Salvagnini as the agency’s first chief artificial intelligence (AI) Officer, a role that extends his current duties as chief data officer. This appointment marks a significant step in Nasa’s commitment to integrating AI technology across its various missions and operations to foster discovery and enhance efficiency.
Salvagnini, whose career spans over two decades of technology leadership in the intelligence community, took on his new role effective immediately, according to Nasa’s press release.His extensive background includes serving in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a 21-year tenure in the Air Force as a communications and computer systems officer.
In his statement, Nelson emphasized the importance of AI in Nasa’s endeavors: “Artificial intelligence has been safely used at Nasa for decades, and as this technology expands, it can accelerate the pace of discovery,” he 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.”
The creation of this position aligns with President Biden’s recent Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence, aiming to ensure the ethical and secure deployment of AI technologies. Salvagnini will be at the forefront of aligning Nasa’s strategic vision and planning for AI, championing innovation, and managing the development of AI tools and training.
Salvagnini’s responsibilities will also include continuing Nasa’s collaborations with other government agencies, academic institutions, industry partners, and experts to ensure the agency remains at the cutting edge of AI technology. These collaborations are vital as Nasa leverages AI in diverse applications, from analyzing Earth science imagery to managing communications with spacecraft like the Perseverance Mars rover.
Prior to Salvagnini’s appointment, Nasa’s chief scientist Kate Calvin temporarily held the position of acting responsible AI official, emphasizing the critical role AI has played and will continue to play in Nasa’s scientific and exploratory missions.


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