Organizing a PauseAI protest
Protesting is a very effective way to get the attention of the public, the media and decision-makers. Even a small protest (with only one participant) can have a big impact, especially if you can get some media attention. So the most important thing is to just do it! However, you can have more impact by scaling up and doing more things, and we’re here to help you with that.
Ask for help
Join our discord to discuss organizing a protest. There are different channels for a lot of countries there. We’re happy to help you with advice and resources!
Pick a location and a date
Ideally, you want to pick a location relevant to the protest. The HQ of a company, parliament, a ministry building - whatever matches your message. Also pick an easily accessible location, because you want as many people as possible to be able to attend. If your date is relevant too (e.g. because there’s a relevant event at that location), that’s even better!
Choose a narrative and write a press release
You want to have a clear ask. A Pause on AI is pretty clear, but often you can be more specific. Are you asking a specific government or politician to support a Pause on AI? Once you know exactly why you’re protesting at that place and location, you can work on a press release.
This is a short document that announces the protest and explains why it’s important. See writing press releases for more information. We can help you with this!
Make the protest visible locally
Stickers, posters, chack stencils, etc. Make sure people know that the protest is happening.
Reach out to (local) media
Journalists like protests, and you want to get as much media attention as possible. So reach out to journalists and send them your press release. Suggest that they come to the protest and that they can interview you. Do this about 24 to 48 hrs before the protest.
Create a webpage
Publish a new page on this PauseAI website.
We can do this for you.
If you know GitHub and rather do it yourself, simply create a new file (e.g.
2023-10-23-nyc-protest.md) in the
Feel free to copy an earlier protest file for inspiration.
Also, update the
Share the event on social media
Create a Facebook event, and share it on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Reach out to people and organizations
Do you have an Effective Altruists group in your city? Or a local AI safety group? Reach out to them, get them to spread your invitation. Keep them informed of the protest, make them part of the process.
Make signs / flyers / banners / props
Use our figma design template or check the media folder to make your own flyers / banners / posters. We have a flyer. that you can print out and hand out to people. Also check out the Discord thread where we discuss protest materials.
Make signs that people can hold up during the protest. You can make a sign using a piece of cardboard or do something fancier. You can be creative with this, or you can check out existing signs from other protests. Work together with others to make signs, and make sure you have enough signs for everyone. Or make one big sign and have everyone hold it up together!
Things to keep in mind when making signs:
- Legibility: use thick markers, readable colors, and large letters
- Simplicity: keep it simple, don’t try to fit too much text on a sign
- Recognizability: if fitting, use the PauseAI logo / colors (orange) / fonts
Get someone to film + take pictures
Your impact will be much bigger if you can share pictures and videos of the protest. So get someone to film the protest, and take pictures.
Prepare a speech
If you want to give a speech, prepare it in advance. Get a megaphone or a loudspeaker if you can. And again, make sure someone is filming it.
During the protest
Speak to media
If journalists are present, speak to them. Prepare some quotes in advance, consider the message you want to get across.
Make an amazing picture (and videos!)
Make sure you have pictures and videos of the protest. Ideally, this is done by someone who is not actively participating in the protest.
Some tips for taking a great photo:
- Make it feel high energy: hold up signs, chant, etc.
- Don’t spread too thin
- Get it cropped: close-ups are better, make it feel more crowded
- Relevant background is good: e.g. a government building, a company logo, etc.
A great video:
- Is short: 30 seconds is enough
- Has someone speaking: a speech, a chant, etc.
- Has people walking, holding up signs, etc.
Speak to people
Hand out your flyers, have conversations. You want to get people to think about the issue, and you want to get them to join your cause. So be friendly, be open, and be prepared to answer questions.
Interview each other
Use your smartphone to record each other talking about why you’re protesting. Make sure the audio quality is decent, use an external mic if possible (they are cheap!).
AI is scary, and we have a lot of reasons to be angry. But don’t get violent, and don’t point your anger at people near the protest. We need to be the good guys here. Some people already think we’re crazy, so we need to be extra careful not to confirm that stereotype.
After the protest
Have some drinks
Protests are not just about sending a message, it’s also about building a community. Having drinks afterwards really solidifies the bonding experience, and it’s a fun way to celebrate!
Gather pictures and videos
Ask all participants to send you their pictures and videos. Create a nicely edited video of the protst
Share your story
Make a post on social media, pick the best picture (or even better: edited video) and share it. Link to the protest webpage, and include the press release there. This should give people enough background information to understand what the protest was about.