Robert Sawyer's Alibis
Back in 2002, science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer wrote an essay about the trade-off between privacy and security, and came out in favor of less privacy. I disagree with most of what he said, and have written pretty much the opposite essay—and others on the value of privacy and the future of privacy—several times since then.
The point of this blog entry isn’t really to debate the topic, though. It’s to reprint the opening paragraph of Sawyer’s essay, which I’ve never forgotten:
Whenever I visit a tourist attraction that has a guest register, I always sign it. After all, you never know when you’ll need an alibi.
Since I read that, whenever I see a tourist attraction with a guest register, I do the same thing. I sign “Robert J. Sawyer, Toronto, ON”—because you never know when he’ll need an alibi.
EDITED TO ADD (9/15): Sawyer’s essay now has a preface, which states that he wrote it to promote a book of his:
The following was written as promotion for my science-fiction novel Hominids, and does not necessarily reflect the author’s personal views.
In the comments below, though, Sawyer says that the essay does not reflect his personal views. So I’m not sure about the waffling on the essay page.
I am completely surprised that Sawyer’s essay was fictional. For years I thought that he meant what he wrote, that it was a non-fiction essay written for a non-fiction publication. He has other essays on his website; I have no idea if any of those reflect his personal views. The whole thing makes absolutely no sense to me.