The Walls Have Eyes

Surviving Migration in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

A chilling exposé of the inhumane and lucrative sharpening of borders around the globe through experimental surveillance technology

“Racism, technology, and borders create a cruel intersection . . . more and more people are getting caught in the crosshairs of an unregulated and harmful set of technologies touted to control borders and ‘manage migration,’ bolstering a multibillion-dollar industry.” —from the introduction

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it was training “robot dogs” to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border against migrants. Four-legged machines equipped with cameras and sensors would join a network of drones and automated surveillance towers—nicknamed the “smart wall.” This is part of a worldwide trend: as more people are displaced by war, economic instability, and a warming planet, more countries are turning to AI-driven technology to “manage” the influx.

Based on years of researching borderlands across the world, lawyer and anthropologist Petra Molnar’s The Walls Have Eyes is a truly global story—a dystopian vision turned reality, where your body is your passport and matters of life and death are determined by algorithm. Examining how technology is being deployed by governments on the world’s most vulnerable with little regulation, Molnar also shows us how borders are now big business, with defense contractors and tech start-ups alike scrambling to capture this highly profitable market.

With a foreword by former UN Special Rapporteur E. Tendayi Achiume, The Walls Have Eyes reveals the profound human stakes of the sharpening of borders around the globe, foregrounding the stories of people on the move and the daring forms of resistance that have emerged against the hubris and cruelty of those seeking to use technology to turn human beings into problems to be solved.


“No other book illuminates the everyday violence of high-tech border technologies like The Walls Have Eyes. Molnar’s powerful storytelling bears witness to the stories of those who are navigating the hostile fault lines of this warming planet and to the machinations of those who profit from the displacement, surveillance, and dehumanization of vulnerable populations.”
—Ruha Benjamin, author of Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code and Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want
“The border industrial complex is a billion-dollar business set to grow exponentially over the coming decades. The Walls Have Eyes is a compelling read, but also a warning about the world we’re entering where civilians with brown and Black skin looking for a better life are demonized, targeted, surveilled, and endlessly monitored. This book is a tool of resistance.”
—Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist, filmmaker, and author of The Palestine Laboratory
“A deeply empathetic, intelligent, and courageous book describing not only the myriad harms imposed by militarized borders, but the inspiring human will and solidarity that break through those barriers. Molnar has produced an intrepid and essential work documenting the dangerous cocktail of tech and xenophobia besetting much of the world today. She both sounds alarm on what the near future holds, and gives hope for a better way forward. This book is a critical intervention.”
—John Washington, author of The Case for Open Borders
“A grave wake-up call.”
Publishers Weekly
“An incisive and terrifying look at how militarism, security, and AI create a dystopian present at borders.”
—Reece Jones, author of Nobody is Protected: How the Border Patrol Became the Most Dangerous Police Force in the United States
“Petra Molnar’s The Walls Have Eyes is an unnerving look at the use of artificial intelligence for border surveillance—how governments and private business are forcing the most vulnerable and desperate of people through a virtual sieve, which captures bits of their being for profit and discipline. We are going to need another word to describe the horror that lies ahead, for dystopia now just describes everyday life. A must-read.”
—Greg Grandin, professor of history, Yale University, and author of The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America
“This book paints a painful yet necessary picture of the present and future of technology at the border, and will hopefully shock us out of our collective complacency into collective action to defend some of the most vulnerable and unheard victims of the border industrial complex. Today’s border is not just a physical place but a series of connected technologies that are hardly understood outside those who develop them. The book is a necessary and crucial intervention into an overlooked area of study, practice, and human experience.”
—Nanjala Nyabola, writer and political analyst

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