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The Robots Already Among Us

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Amazon is now one of the largest employers in the United States, but its empire was built partly thanks to a small army of robotic workers.

In partnership with

As WIRED senior writer Will Knight writes in a behind-the-scenes feature article, Amazon is now rolling out thousands of new, more advanced robots. The move could have profound implications for the company’s workers, for its customers, and for ecommerce as a whole.

“Amazon’s latest robots could bring about a company-wide—and industry-wide—shift in the balance between automation and people,” Knight writes. “Certain jobs will be eliminated while new ones will emerge […] and competitors, as always, will be forced to adapt or perish.”

Knight has spent more than a decade chronicling developments in automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence. He explains that, despite recent excitement over AI programs like ChatGPT, most industrial robots remain remarkably dumb and inflexible—largely because of the incredible challenges that come with operating in the messy physical world. And yet, rapid progress in AI, steady improvements in hardware, and rising demand for automation mean that we may well stand on the cusp of robotic revolution.

Read on for more stories about machines that are marching (and flying and rolling) this way. And when you’re ready for more, check out Knight’s Fast Forward newsletter.

Image courtesy of Figure AI / WIRED

Here Come the Underdogs of the Robot Olympics

Tom Vanderbilt


“The inspiring story of a scrappy group of undergrads who take on the world’s leading robot researchers in a contest organized by the Pentagon’s research division, Darpa.” -Will Knight, Senior Writer

Can Robots Evolve Into Machines of Loving Grace?

Meghan O’Gieblyn


WK: “With ChatGPT et al, it’s easy to think that machines are already intelligent. But perhaps we need robots, constructed in the right way, for that to finally happen.”

John Deere Doubles Down on Silicon Valley and Robots

Will Knight


WK: “John Deere is creating robots capable of toiling on farms. The outcry from some farmers reveals much about the power of AI and automation to concentrate power.”

The Problem with Blaming Robots for Taking Our Jobs

Jane Hu

The New Yorker

WK: “This fascinating essay explores the problems with blaming robots—and automation in general—stealing people’s jobs.”

Robots Show Us Who We Are

Brian Gallagher


WK: “An interview with one scientist who believes we need to give robots the ability to ‘imagine’ and share a ‘culture.’”

Automation Isn’t the Biggest Threat to US Factory Jobs

Anna Waldman-Brown


WK: “Why automation is not the real threat to US factory jobs—and why that is crucial to the future of America’s economy.”

Humanoid Robots Are Coming of Age

Will Knight


WK: “Building a robot capable of mimicking a human’s every move is insanely difficult. So why do several startups believe they can actually pull it off?”

Robots Need Us More Than We Need Them

H. James WilsonPaul R. Daugherty

Harvard Business Review

WK: “A thoughtful piece from Harvard Business Review arguing that humans will be crucial to the success of even the most automated and robotic companies of the future.”

Robot Cars Are Causing 911 False Alarms in San Francisco

Aarian Marshall


WK: “Robot cars are a common sight in some cities. The chaos they are causing around San Francisco shows that not everyone is enamored with the technology.”

Read More Stories Behind the Reporting

Pocket Collections


Get to know what’s behind the latest WIRED stories — straight from the reporters.

Will Knight

Will Knight is a senior writer for WIRED, covering artificial intelligence. He writes the Fast Forward newsletter that explores how advances in AI and other emerging technology are set to change our lives—sign up here. He was previously a senior editor at MIT Technology Review, where he wrote about fundamental advances in AI and China’s AI boom. Before that, he was an edito