While I believe that ‘cold statistics’ properly deployed, can in fact help us take account of people’s feelings and traditions, and avoid treating men like robots, nevertheless, there is a warning here, as we approach what has been described as a ‘post-human’ future. 

May we use statistics, and even robots, to treat each other (and other living species) more, rather than less, humanely. While keeping in mind the messy complexity of people, of feelings and traditions.

Amen.

Banffy, through the voice of his protagonist Balint, pleads a progressive leadership for his time, and chronicles the failure of his own aristocratic class to provide it. 

‘How simple everything would seem if one looked only at the figures, those cold statistics that took no account of people’s feelings and traditions.  How much would be destroyed if men were to be treated as robots!’

 

Source: Miklos Banffy, They Were Counted, trans. Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Banffy-Jelen (London: Arcadia Books, 1999 (1934)), p. 132

Photo credit: cpastrick at pixabay

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