News: AI ambitions at NASA skyrocket with first-ever Chief AI Officer

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AI ambitions at NASA skyrocket with first-ever Chief AI Officer

Meet the new AI commander steering NASA's journey through the cosmos.
AI ambitions at NASA skyrocket with first-ever Chief AI Officer

US space agency NASA has expanded the role of its current data chief David Salvagnini into the position of Chief AI officer in light of the agency’s growing use of AI. The appointment is effective immediately, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced this week.

The new role underscores the importance of AI in supporting NASA’s extensive missions and research initiatives.

Artificial intelligence at NASA

NASA is actively enhancing how it uses emerging AI technologies to support its diverse missions. This involves applying AI to analyse Earth science imagery, searching for extraterrestrial data via the James Webb Space Telescope, and managing communications for the Perseverance Mars rover through the Deep Space Network.

NASA said it employs AI tools to uncover trends in their data and enhance autonomous capabilities in its spacecraft and aircraft. The agency hopes to leverage these technologies to advance its reach and efficiency in space exploration.

One AI use case at NASA is the identification of galaxies tucked away in remote regions of the universe based on images sent back by the James Webb Space Telescope.

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

Who is NASA's first-ever chief AI officer?

As AI chief, Salvagnini will continue to collaborate with other government agencies, academic entities, industry leaders, and AI experts.

Salvagnini, who started at NASA in June 2023, brings extensive experience from over two decades in technology leadership roles within the intelligence community. Before joining NASA, he worked for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where he was involved in high-level IT and AI strategy and implementation.

Apart from his experience in tech and intelligence, Salvagnini also has a military background, having served 21 years in the Air Force as a communications and computer systems officer before retiring in 2005.

Before Salvagnini was named AI chief, Kate Calvin, NASA’s chief scientist, temporarily handled the responsibilities associated with AI leadership at the agency.

AC Charania, chief technologist at NASA, expressed excitement over Salvagnini’s expanded role and welcomed the opportunity to continue using AI in NASA missions.

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Topics: Technology, Appointments, Leadership, C-Suite, #Artificial Intelligence

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