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When you think of the industrial revolution what comes to mind? Steam engines probably. Lone genius inventors. Factories and coal mines, perhaps. And depending on your professional interests and political leanings, either suffering laborers in sweat shops or the Great Onward March of Civilization. 

Did anybody think of guns? According to my guest today Stanford historian Priya Satia, guns are inextricably bound up with industrialization and it is our long and ever-changing relationship with these  tools, toys, trade goods, status symbols, and instruments of war that makes them such a persistent fact of life to this day. Priya Satia’s latest book is EMPIRE OF GUNS: the Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution

Priya Satia Quote: Where there is political will, the genie can be put back in the bottle. There was abolition of the slave trade even at the height of its profitability in Britain because there was sufficient political will. Governments worldwide depend on American civilians continuing to be able to buy guns for the sake of the health of gun manufacturers around the world. But I don’t think that means it’s impossible to find a way to put the genie back in the bottle, even here.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode

Max Tegmark on artificial intelligence

Alice Dreger on the history of knowledge

About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.


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