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.

Why protesting works

  • Protesting shows the world that we care about this issue. By protesting, we show that we are willing to spend our time and energy to get people to listen.
  • Protests can and often will positively influence public opinion, voting behavior, corporate behavior and policy.
  • By far most people are supportive of peaceful/non-violent protests
  • There is no “backfire” effect unless the protest is violent . Our protests are peaceful and non-violent.
  • It’s a social bonding experience. You meet other people who share your concerns and willingness to take action.
  • Check out this amazing article for more insights on why protesting works


Ask for help

Check if there’s not already a local community near you . And join our Discord server to discuss organizing a protest. 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, chalk 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 src/posts folder. Feel free to copy an earlier protest file for inspiration. Also, update the protests.md file.

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!).

Be cool

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 protest.

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.