NASA names its first AI chief

NASA has named its first chief artificial intelligence (AI) officer, with the technology playing an increasingly important role in space exploration.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has named David Salvagnini as the agency’s new AI officer, an expansion of his current role as its chief data officer.

Salvagnini is now responsible for aligning the strategic vision and planning for AI usage across NASA. The space agency already has a wide variety of AI tools, which it uses for mission support and research projects, data analysis, and system development.

“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.”

Salvagnini’s appointment is in accordance with President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of AI, according to NASA.

As a chief AI officer, Salvagnini is expected to continue NASA’s collaboration with other government agencies, academic institutions, industry partners, and other experts to ensure that the agency is on the “cutting edge” of AI technology.

Prior to joining NASA in June 2023, Salvagnini spent more than two decades working in technology leadership positions in the intelligence community, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.