‘Pause AI’ protestors are fighting to put AI development on hold

As artificial intelligence development continues apace, protestors are fighting back.

On Monday (May 13) a group of 20 or so people took to the street outside the London headquarters of the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology to make a stance.

The protestors make up part of an activist group aiming to make companies pause the development of large AI models which they fear could be a risk to the future of humanity. They’ve called themselves Pause AI.

14 cities.

12 countries.

1 message to world leaders attending next week’s Seoul AI summit: Wake up and face the risks.

⬇️PauseAI’s international protest, a thread⬇️

— PauseAI ⏸ (@PauseAI) May 14, 2024

Their website states: “AI is a powerful technology that is increasingly transforming our world. It comes with amazing potential, but also with serious risks, including existential catastrophe.”

By far the most interesting thing about today’s NYC @PauseAI protest outside of @Microsoft were the reactions from passersby. Most people ignored it (as expected), but all the engagement I saw was supportive. The most common objection was that AI doom was inevitable. One guy… pic.twitter.com/Om3M2K0KjK

— Garrison Lovely (@GarrisonLovely) May 14, 2024

More protests are planned in San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Rome, Ottawa, and other cities.

Protesting methods and what’s more effective for Pause AI

Although the group has true intentions, the organization of its protests has left some unsure if it’s the best way to communicate its message.

According to Wired, the protesters’ Discord channel includes numerous discussions about which methods are best.

When determining whether staging sit-ins would be too disruptive, one member of the group was said to say: “Probably not. We do what we have to, in the end, for a future with humanity, while we still can.”

The leaders of the protest group Pause AI spoke with the publisher and said they were not considering more disruptive direct action such as sit-ins or encampments near AI offices for now.

“Our tactics and our methods are actually very moderate. I want to be the moderate base for a lot of organizations in this space. I’m sure we would never condone violence. I also want Pause AI to go further than that and just be very trustworthy.”

Another leader agrees: “I truly hope that we don’t need to take other actions. I don’t expect that we’ll need to. I don’t feel like I’m the type of person to lead a movement that isn’t completely legal.”

Featured Image: Via the Pause AI UK X Page

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Sophie Atkinson