Air Force names Joe Chapa as chief responsible AI ethics officer

Chapa is a pilot with more than 1,400 flying hours and holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Oxford.
Department of the Air Force, seal
(DOD / Lisa Ferdinando)

The Air Force has appointed a chief responsible artificial intelligence ethics officer.

Joe Chapa takes up the newly created role after serving as team lead on the Air Staff’s Artificial Intelligence Cross-Functional Team. Previously, he was a staff officer within the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability.

He is a senior pilot with more than 1,400 pilot and instructor flying hours, and holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Oxford. His areas of expertise include just war theory and military ethics, and Chapa later this year will publish a book on the ethics of remote warfare.

The appointment comes amid a wider push across the Department of Defense and other federal government agencies to formalize ethics guidelines for the use of AI.


In November last year, the Defense Innovation Unit issued what it called “responsible artificial intelligence” guidelines, which it will require third-party developers to adhere to when building AI for the military. These came after the DOD earlier that year had said it would produce wider guidance for AI ethical principles by late August.

Across the DOD, the Joint AI Center (JAIC) is one of the key groups working on the ethics of AI, in addition to a responsible AI subcommittee of the DOD’s AI steering group which meets monthly and an international program for military-to-military collaboration on AI among 16 partner nations.

The Air Force did not respond to a request for comment.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct a reference to the Joint AI Center.

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