from the world's big
Extended senses & invisible fences
By Chris Arkenberg
“The intelligence of the city is on the streets.“ – Manu Fernandez
Amidst the swirling maelstrom of technological progress so often heralded as the imminent salvation to all our ills, it can be necessary to remind ourselves that humanity sits at the center, not technology. And yet, we extrude these tools so effortlessly as if secreted by some glandular Technos expressed from deep within our genetic code. It’s difficult to separate us from our creations but it’s imperative that we examine this odd relationship as we engineer more autonomy, sensitivity, and cognition into the machines we bring into this world. The social environment, typified by the contemporary urban landscape, is evolving to include non-human actors that routinely engage with us, examining our behaviors, mediating our relationships, and assigning or revoking our rights. It is this evolving human-machine socialization that I wish to consider.
The intelligence of the city is on the streets, as Manu Fernandez suggests. This is an important distinction reminding us that humanity is at the center of intelligent cities, and offering a counterpoint to the productized packages of technological solutions so popular in the techno-strain of contemporary urban development.
There are several fundamental drivers that set the frame for our relationship with machine intelligence. Computation is a deep current within human innovation & adaptation, and it’s only gained momentum on the inertia of civilization. However, nature is a deeper current engineered into our very cells. We’re spreading computation universally but this path is actually leading us to better understand and more effectively mimic biosystems. Biological patterns are at work, albeit on considerably longer timeframes, within everything we do as human animals. Like nature itself, the technosphere is expressed heterogeneously, organically and distributed across many scales. Although we seem compelled to create it, there is a tension between technology and humanity. We’re not entirely at ease with our creations, burdened by the recognition that the pace of technology is faster than our ability to understand its consequences. This is especially so as we yield more and more agency to machines & algorithms working at greater and greater scales. More often than not, regulatory structures emerge after things go wrong rather than before they have a chance to fail. The resulting dialectic is one where governance contains while innovation releases, leaving us in the middle to experience the consequences of collapsing our imagination into reality.
We know this, of course, but somewhere in the recent past we crossed a threshold from building tools dependent upon humans to those with enough autonomy and agency to make rudimentary decisions on our behalf. We create our tools and believe that we control them but the arc of our technos is yielding more and more control to the machines themselves. By making them more like us we give them more freedom, agency, and authority. This is the trade-off we find ourselves navigating here at the dawn of the 21st century.
If the frame is one of both progress and tension, what are the assumptions underlying this examination of our path forward? It is essentially a Growth model through which I consider this arc (this model being the easiest to bet on, if not the least resilient). Global GDP continues at a roughly linear pace with the bulk of growth shifting to Asia and, later, Africa, but driven and funded by the aging West. Cities continue to add population yielding optimizations and degradations, boomtown build-outs and downturn data decay. Economic models evolve slowly without major revolutionary shifts. Capital will continue its steady re-distribution into younger markets seeking to capture the prosperity of the West. Energy constraints are managed through a combination of old & new inputs but there are many bumps along the way as the resource needs of the developing world begin to dominate the global stage. Environmentally, we’ll see more adaptation than mitigation of climate chaos, driving migrations, shifting food stocks, and impacting health and reproductive fecundity. In this scenario it will be some time before we’re able to effectively understand and manage complex natural systems. Politically, governance and sovereignty will continue to balkanize and governments will be more & more distracted contending with multinational corporations, NGO’s, syndicates, super-empowered individuals, and the ongoing challenges of climate and resource instabilities. Such distraction of governors opens tremendous gaps & opportunities for innovations, both to good and bad ends. Small-town mayors and local tech collectives are as likely as gun traffickers and drug cartels to drive regional innovation.
Cities will evolve within this broader context, expressing the deeper currents organically. The living city is emergent and messy and is itself an organism composed of innumerable interstitial and ephemeral cellular structures. Driven by the will of its inhabitants, cities will continue forward as an accelerating patchwork of implementations, seeking greater efficiency & resiliency, flexing to absorb discontinuities, and continually extruding a rich skin of connected technologies and distributed services.
Given this environment and the assumptions underlying the discussion, there are 6 domains worth considering through which we engage the city and its inhabitants, both human and machine. Within this is a loose taxonomy of mediated interactions we have with the urban computational scaffolding.
In the personal domain the individual is the reference point around which various experiences are arranged. With connected mobile devices we carry a network identifier that effectively labels every individual with an IP address. Our network ID authenticates and provisions us with access and can bar us from admittance to both virtual and physical relationships. The clothes we wear and the devices we carry begin to interact and register an online presence as part of our personal device mesh. Our identity is wrapped in and contextualized by our location, conferring spatial intelligence and invoking situated technologies around us. Through connected sensing & mediation our data profile accumulates personal information about memberships, affinity networks, paths, transactions, history, and more, pairing our network identification with our personal identity. This is the core information structure around which the urban interface assembles. In this manner, we are clothing ourselves in data-rich, sensing technologies.
Surrounding the personal domain is the local sphere. From identity & location we derive proximity & context. What are we near, can we interact with it in some way, is it interested in us, does it contain something to be discovered? Proximity reaches out to ambient information just as the local domain examines us. The pathways we traverse through the city contain information valuable to us and to others. Where have we been, what is our trajectory, where are we going, are there path optimizations available? How can we meet and assemble, disperse and evade...? The relationship between the personal and the local is the site of context. Identity and proximity enable context awareness and situated technologies around which assemble relevant services & solutions and authoritative structures adjudicating our rights. We understand physical boundaries through their viscerality but we also pass through layers of invisible edges. Across such boundary zones and perimeters an always-on network that understands identity, proximity, and context can provision or revoke services based on our location. Geofencing is a friendly welcome, a helpful agent, or an ankle bracelet under house arrest. In the local domain we have extended senses and invisible fences, anchoring the virtual in the actual and wiring the real to the transreal.
Around the local rises the structural world. Ubicomp marches into this domain to instrument the built environment, conferring onto it sensation and communication. This vision begets the IBM brochure of the idealized Smart City alive with instrumented architecture and conversant infrastructure. Building information management systems define a broad data profile for structures. Embedded microprocessors and visualization dashboards reveal the runtime mirror of living architectural systems. The modern structure is aware of itself, its occupants, its environment, and its provisioned operators across the globe. Individual structures tie in to civic infrastructure as organs interface with the circulatory & nervous system. Energy, security, water, waste, roadways, rail, inflows, outflows, seismic, atmospheric… It’s all coming online communicating and correcting. New data instruments are necessary to comprehend the volume of flowing urban informatics as we presently find ourselves overwhelmed with voices from literally billions of microprocessors. Fundamental to these systems is communication infrastructure. Ubiquitous wireless coverage and unavoidable instrumentation express a civic nervous system wired by fiber to the urban brain. What doesn’t flow through conduit & plumbing travels through the city along transport lines. Instrumentation promises efficiencies in scheduling, way-finding, traffic management, and tracking of goods but will also create automation, remote management and control, as well as new systempunkts for disruptors to attack.
We are constructing a computational sensorium of urban informatics, waking the built environment through instrumentation and connectivity. Like a membrane around us, the physical environment expresses itself through a virtual layer of interaction. This interaction layer is implicit in all previous domains but it’s important to consider the parameters of access and interface. Visual interaction is the most common to current computational metaphors, and the most obvious to the emerging layer of augmented reality. With a computationally mediated visual interface like AR we enable a deeply personalized experience of the city and of each other. Tags and annotations, memorials and territorial markers, visible avatars and secret locations, and the challenge of occlusions and relentless bill-boarding by marketers all compete for our field of view. How will the shared construct of reality be forced to shift (or possibly fragment) when what I see is different from your annotated view of the augmented world? Add an auditory layer and the city begins to talk to us, personal, contextual, instructively and artistically, like a poem embedded in a memorial bench spoken by an ancestor as we walk past. Touch it to feel the living city as haptics engage the tactile needs of our social species through handprint biometrics and sensing surfaces demanding our skin. How might the tactile be engaged in personal, social, and public contexts bot local and remote? How might distant touch collapse the space between us? Between touch and sight, gestures employ a visible language of form and movement seen by machine eyes and relayed to networks, actuators, and servo arrays collating gait analysis and biometric profiling. Voice recognition and natural language processing delivers verbal commands to digital ears (and secrets to ambient listeners). Talk to your device, talk to the walls, speak “friend” and pass. These are some of the ways we interface with the awakening world.
Our nature is social. Relationships are interactive and transactional. We build technologies to enable new relationships, and it appears that some deep animism drives us to awaken the inanimate to engage with us more directly. Yet, in these relationships we’re not always willing participants.
At its core, cybernetics is a means to control information systems. The convergence of ubiquitous computation and network connectivity is, by design, a control system. In the living city, the regulatory domain is a good thing and a bad thing. Control is both optimization and oppression, depending on the circumstances. Connected identification, proximity and location awareness, remote access to embedded systems, and ubiquitous surveillance and sousveillance enable an array of solutions to a host of interested 3rd parties. Malcolm McCullough suggested that “contexts remind people and their devices how to behave”, acknowledging the moral ambiguity within some conversations about ubicomp. This is an important point to consider as we bond more closely with machines and algorithms.
Cybernetic regulation begins with feedback. Implicit in feedback is knowledge of the system. Feedback is state & status. State and status becomes assessment and response. Examples include the auto-pilot in aircraft and the content recommendation algorithm in Facebook. Once keeps us safe from change while the other guides us towards an ignorance of diversity. Guidance becomes governance of embedded systems and human behavior. Algorithmic guidance is the Prius dashboard showing you your fuel consumption. Embedded governance is a bottle of Valium that won’t open if you’re above your weekly allowance. Cybernetic control is greatly enabled by shared network computation mediating our interactions, regulating our structures, guiding our vehicles and devices, and slowly, being invited into our bodies.
By developing algorithms to help us we enable them to contain us. This is a delicate path to tread, from unyielding embedded governance to the inevitable decay and obsolescence of technology, and beyond to the cognitive disruptions and psychic malaise born of intractable dependencies on virtual agents that may up and quit us or simply fall offline when we need them most. Such risks are not new for our tools but we must be wary of how tightly we chose to entangle ourselves with them as as they are deputized to manage more sub-routines on our behalf.
The balance to cybernetic governance may lie in programmed serendipity, digital artistic license, or simply the freedom allowed by a sudden glitch in the algorithm. In articulating the New Aesthetic, Bruce Sterling considered the movement as arising from “an eruption of the digital into the physical”. The domain of aesthetics is the way we navigate and express our emotional engagement with this disruption. Blended realities emerge through the abundance of screens, annotations, and overlays, characterized in part by a growing inability to distinguish authentic from synthetic, or to clearly separate the self from the other. Polysocial reality, as articulated by Sally Applin and Michael Fischer, examines how society is modulated by these connective technologies and how multiplexed channels of experience reform group behaviors and their contexts. Spatial convergence is already challenging our ability to disambiguate between presence and distance. The brain evolved to handle one construct of reality yet we now overlay multiple local and remote experiences simultaneously. This is an entirely new cognitive map. The psychological exploration of this territory reveals itself, in part, through our artistic expressions. Telepresence, data compression, machine vision, reality capture, and glitch media inform a cyborg aesthetic to communicate the emotionality and fascination with this interface between humanity and technology. These become the artifacts of the New Aesthetic precipitating from the eruption of the digital into the physical, leaving the narrow domain of geekdom and painting itself across the walls of our world.
The great work of art & science is thus the communication of the centrality of humanity within these domains, and the hopeful accomplishment of more closely aligning us with each other and with the natural world in which we live. Yet, human perception, cognition, and expression are not constant but continually evolving under the modulating impact of this ingression of virtuality into our lives. The quickening emergence of ubiquitous computation, polysocial reality, and non-local cognition alters the way we experience the world around us, the way we connect with others, and the way we construct our sense of self. And while we must be very careful when we abdicate responsibility to mechanized objects and autonomous governance, the living city offers tremendous opportunities for novelty, innovation, empowerment, and a deep expression of humanity at play with the technosphere.
The French novelist, Alphonse Karr, is said to have quipped, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. This is a necessary refrain to bear in mind. Underneath all the shiny new things we’re still playing the same game. The needs and goals of the human species have barely changed though they work through ever evolving forms. As we heave civilization forward into another churning millennium, dematerializing and virtualizing into greater sustained abstractions of information, it is still our humanity that frames the world more than our technology. How we act is still much more important than what we make.
Chris is a researcher at the Hybrid Reality institute. He is an independent researcher, analyst, and innovation strategist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him @chris23
Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?
- Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
- It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
- COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
What conditions of the new normal were already appreciated widely?<p>First, we understand that higher education is unique among industries. Some industries are governed by markets. Others are run by governments. Most operate under the influence of both markets and governments. And then there's higher education. Higher education as an "industry" involves public, private, and for-profit universities operating at small, medium, large, and now massive scales. Some higher education industry actors are intense specialists; others are adept generalists. Some are fantastically wealthy; others are tragically poor. Some are embedded in large cities; others are carefully situated near farms and frontiers.</p> <p>These differences demonstrate just some of the complexities that shape higher education. Still, we understand that change in the industry is underway, and we must be active in directing it. Yet because of higher education's unique (and sometimes vexing) operational and structural conditions, many of the lessons from change management and the science of industrial transformation are only applicable in limited or highly modified ways. For evidence of this, one can look at various perspectives, including those that we have offered, on such topics as <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/rethinking-higher-education/lessons-disruption" target="_blank">disruption</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/education/learning/education-technology.html" target="_blank">technology management</a>, and so-called "<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Excerpt_IHESpecialReport_Growing-Role-of-Mergers-in-Higher-Ed.pdf" target="_blank">mergers and acquisitions</a>" in higher education. In each of these spaces, the "market forces" and "market rules" for higher education are different than they are in business, or even in government. This has always been the case and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p> <p>Second, with so much excitement about innovation in higher education, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that students are—and should remain—the core cause for innovation. Higher education's capacity to absorb new ideas is strong. But the ideas that endure are those designed to benefit students, and therefore society. This is important to remember because not all innovations are designed with students in mind. The recent history of innovation in higher education includes several cautionary tales of what can happen when institutional interests—or worse, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/apollos-new-owners-seek-fresh-start-beleaguered-company" target="_blank">shareholder</a> interests—are placed above student well-being.</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>Third, it is abundantly apparent that universities must leverage technology to increase educational quality and access. The rapid shift to delivering an education that complies with social distancing guidelines speaks volumes about the adaptability of higher education institutions, but this transition has also posed unique difficulties for colleges and universities that had been slow to adopt digital education. The last decade has shown that online education, implemented effectively, can meet or even surpass the quality of in-person <a href="https://link-springer-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/article/10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z" target="_blank">instruction</a>.</p><p>Digital instruction, broadly defined, leverages online capabilities and integrates adaptive learning methodologies, predictive analytics, and innovations in instructional design to enable increased student engagement, personalized learning experiences, and improved learning outcomes. The ability of these technologies to transcend geographic barriers and to shrink the marginal cost of educating additional students makes them essential for delivering education at scale.</p><p>As a bonus, and it is no small thing given that they are the core cause for innovation, students embrace and enjoy digital instruction. It is their preference to learn in a format that leverages technology. This should not be a surprise; it is now how we live in all facets of life.</p><p>Still, we have only barely begun to conceive of the impact digital education will have. For example, emerging virtual and augmented reality technologies that facilitate interactive, hands-on learning will transform the way that learners acquire and apply new knowledge. Technology-enabled learning cannot replace the traditional college experience or ensure the survival of any specific college, but it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale. This has always been the case, and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p>
What conditions of the new normal were emerging suspicions?<p>Our collective thinking about the role of institutional or university-to-university collaboration and networking has benefitted from a new clarity in light of COVID-19. We now recognize more than ever that colleges and universities must work together to ensure that the American higher education system is resilient and sufficiently robust to meet the needs of students and their families.</p> <p>In recent weeks, various commentators have suggested that higher education will face a wave of institutional <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-galloway-predicts-colleges-will-close-due-to-pandemic-2020-5" target="_blank">closures</a> and consolidations and that large institutions with significant online instruction capacity will become dominant.</p> <p>While ASU is the largest public university in the United States by enrollment and among the most well-equipped in online education, we strongly oppose "let them fail" mindsets. The strength of American higher education relies on its institutional diversity, and on the ability of colleges and universities to meet the needs of their local communities and educate local students. The needs of learners are highly individualized, demanding a wide range of options to accommodate the aspirations and learning styles of every kind of student. Education will become less relevant and meaningful to students, and less responsive to local needs, if institutions of higher learning are allowed to fail. </p> <p>Preventing this outcome demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education. This will help institutions with fewer resources adapt to our new normal and continue to fulfill their mission of serving students, their families, and their communities. Many had suspected that collaboration and networking were preferable over letting vulnerable colleges fail. COVID-19's new normal seems to be confirming this.</p>
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during the Arizona State University graduation ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium May 13, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. Over 65,000 people attended the graduation.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images<p>A second condition of the new normal that many had suspected to be true in recent years is the limited role that any one university or type of university can play as an exemplar to universities more broadly. For decades, the evolution of higher education has been shaped by the widespread imitation of a small number of elite universities. Most public research universities could benefit from replicating Berkeley or Michigan. Most small private colleges did well by replicating Williams or Swarthmore. And all universities paid close attention to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of replication has guided the evolution of higher education for centuries, both in the US and abroad.</p><p>Only recently have we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so. For example, cases such as <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/10/harvard-moves-classes-online-advises-students-stay-home-after-spring-break-response-covid-19/" target="_blank">Harvard's</a> eviction of students over the course of less than one week or <a href="https://www.nhregister.com/news/coronavirus/article/Mayor-New-Haven-asks-for-coronavirus-help-Yale-15162606.php" target="_blank">Yale's apparent reluctance</a> to work with the city of New Haven, highlight that even higher education's legacy gold standards have limits and weaknesses. We are hopeful that the new normal will include a more active and earnest recognition that we need many types of universities. We think the new normal invites us to rethink the very nature of "gold standards" for higher education.</p>
A graduate student protests MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images<p>Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we had started to suspect and now understand that America's colleges and universities are among the many institutions of democracy and civil society that are, by their very design, incapable of being sufficiently responsive to the full spectrum of modern challenges and opportunities they face. Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted. And without new designs, we can expect postsecondary success for these same students to be as elusive in the new normal, as it was in the <a href="http://pellinstitute.org/indicators/reports_2019.shtml" target="_blank">old normal</a>. This is not just because some universities fail to sufficiently recognize and engage the promise of diversity, this is because few universities have been designed from the outset to effectively serve the unique needs of lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color.</p>
Where can the new normal take us?<p>As colleges and universities face the difficult realities of adapting to COVID-19, they also face an opportunity to rethink their operations and designs in order to respond to social needs with greater agility, adopt technology that enables education to be delivered at scale, and collaborate with each other in order to maintain the dynamism and resilience of the American higher education system.</p> <p>COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education—and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years. </p> <p>ASU has been able to rapidly adapt to the present circumstances because we have spent nearly two decades not just anticipating but <em>driving</em> innovation in higher education. We have adopted a <a href="https://www.asu.edu/about/charter-mission-and-values" target="_blank">charter</a> that formalizes our definition of success in terms of "who we include and how they succeed" rather than "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/17/forget-varsity-blues-madness-lets-talk-about-students-who-cant-afford-college/" target="_blank">who we exclude</a>." We adopted an entrepreneurial <a href="https://president.asu.edu/read/higher-logic" target="_blank">operating model</a> that moves at the speed of technological and social change. We have launched initiatives such as <a href="https://www.instride.com/how-it-works/" target="_blank">InStride</a>, a platform for delivering continuing education to learners already in the workforce. We developed our own robust technological capabilities in ASU <a href="https://edplus.asu.edu/" target="_blank">EdPlus</a>, a hub for research and development in digital learning that, even before the current crisis, allowed us to serve more than 45,000 fully online students. We have also created partnerships with other forward-thinking institutions in order to mutually strengthen our capabilities for educational accessibility and quality; this includes our role in co-founding the <a href="https://theuia.org/" target="_blank">University Innovation Alliance</a>, a consortium of 11 public research universities that share data and resources to serve students at scale. </p> <p>For ASU, and universities like ASU, the "new normal" of a post-COVID world looks surprisingly like the world we already knew was necessary. Our record breaking summer 2020 <a href="https://asunow.asu.edu/20200519-sun-devil-life-summer-enrollment-sets-asu-record" target="_blank">enrollment</a> speaks to this. What COVID demonstrates is that we were already headed in the right direction and necessitates that we continue forward with new intensity and, we hope, with more partners. In fact, rather than "new normal" we might just say, it's "go time." </p>
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
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