Jonathan Masters helps lead a team of writers and editors that produces wide-ranging content for CFR.org, including backgrounders, interviews, visual stories, and events. He also writes on foreign policy and national security. He was the chief editor of “Campaign 2016: The Candidates and the World,” an interactive guide to the US presidential election that won an Online News Association award. In the summer of 2017, he reported in Japan on autonomous vehicles as an Abe journalism fellow. His work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, and other publications. Masters has a BA in political science from Emory University and an MA in social theory from the New School. He is a term member of CFR and a member of the Overseas Press Club.
Japan has led the world in robotics for decades, leveraging in its expertise in engineering precision machines for a range of industries like automotive and electronics. Much like in the past, the robotics industry is expected to take a leading role in Japan's economic future, especially given the country's demographic challenges. In 2015, the government of Shinzo Abe issued a strategy that acknowledged the economic significance of the industry and called for Japan to become the "world's top robot innovation hub." A five-year government-led plan aims to promote the development of robotics-related technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, and expand the use of robots in a number of sectors. Meanwhile, Japan's competitive advantage in robotics is under threat from forces overseas. Other countries, particularly the United States, China, and Korea, are catching up as the software robots need to operate becomes more of the focus of innovators than the hardware, the physical components of robots that Japanese firms are best at making. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are quickly becoming the research priority as companies look to develop more advanced machines that can function in complex settings. My fellowship will investigate the following: Is Japan on track to become the global leader in robot innovation? If not, what hurdles does the country face now and down the line? How can they be overcome? I request to spend four weeks in Japan and two weeks in Korea talking to students, researchers, government officials, financiers, business executives, and other relevant experts.