NASA appoints a Chief AI Officer

  • NASA has created a new position in Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer.
  • The role will be filled by chief data officer David Salvagnini.
  • NASA hopes to use AI to sift through the large swathes of data it collects and analyses.

There has been a rapid amount of development in the field of artificial intelligence. So much so that NASA has created a new position and filled it.

Okay, technically the role of chief artificial intelligence officer is an extension of David Salvagnini’s – who has been named CAIO – existing position as chief data officer.

The space exploration agency has been using and embracing AI for some time now in support for missions, data analysis and developing systems. Last year the firm said it was using generative AI to help design spacecraft parts. It also recently announced a partnership with IBM to track climate change.

“Artificial intelligence has been safely used at NASA for decades, and as this technology expands, it can accelerate the pace of discovery,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “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.”

Among the use cases for AI that NASA envisions are using the tech to sift through Earth science imagery, sifting through exoplanet data collected by the James Webb Space Telescope and helping with Deep Space communications. To that end, Salvagnini will have the task of keeping up with developments in the AI field and ensuring that NASA is operating at the bleeding edge of the sector.

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.

The newly appointed CAIO will also align NASA’s AI vision by supports and managing the risk associated with leveraging AI tools, platforms and training data.

The executive joined NASA in 2023. Before that, he worked for the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

We suspect that before 2024 is done we’ll see more major announcements about chief AI officers, especially as more companies embrace the technology.


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