(193) Bílá krvinka
There’s an AI-generated image that imagines what the world would look like if the Roman Empire never fell—I engaged in similar speculation as a child as soon as I heard that the Romans had “apartment blocks” (insulae); as the AI request shows, it’s a common thought—if they had that then, imagine, if it never fell, what we would have now. What we would have now, if the Roman Empire never fell, would indeed be nothing like today—because the assumption that Roman technology was on a continuum with ours is not so; indeed, to think Rome could “just go on” would be meaningless to the ancients—for them everything was cyclical.
People look at the aqueducts and think, “The Romans knew what we know so far as engineering, maths, and physics go when we build bridges and aqueducts—then we forgot that in the Dark Ages.” We forgot, but we did not forget, for example, calculus; the techniques the Romans used to build their engineering projects were not the same as ours and were partly fused with rites and rituals—with a quasi-religious approach to life (a tradition carried on in the medieval period by the Masons—from which the Freemasons, the people who lay the cornerstone).
It’s actually an entirely different way to conceptualise the world—considerably less quantitative (remember, the Romans didn’t even have zero—zero changes everything). So Roman technology was not the same as our technology today—and for a long time we didn’t even understand how their very durable concrete was made (a recent discovery). So it’s possible to imagine, per Heidegger, that there’s an “alternative technology” world—not in the sense that we mean today—but where to build a bridge with considerable sophistication is not a calculative process that involved infinitesimals but a sacred rite; and so it’s debatable whether if the Roman Empire never collapsed we would have AI that could speculate as to what it would look like if “Carthage never collapsed”.