A Lesson from Evolution.

G. L. Filkovsky, TRIZ Master,
Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

Living organisms consist of various systems performing various functions; for instance, eyes see, muscles move, and stomach digests. However, an organism as a whole has one function, and this is the same function for all living organisms: to reproduce, to pass its genetic material into the future. Evolution of organisms has one and only one criterion: a change is good if it results in individuals with improved reproductive success compared to its parents.

This criterion defines evolution of organic systems. Eyes do not necessarily evolve toward better vision. They even can evolve toward a complete loss of the seeing function if such change improves the organism's reproductive success (see, for example, "The advantage of being a blind fish). In another example, a bone structure that helped flexibility of jaws did not evolve into a better jaw flexibility mechanism, but instead completely lost its connection to jaws and became a little hummer and anvil mechanism in the middle ear. The reason this has happened is that the resulting organism has had a better reproductive success than its ancestor with a flexible jaw. Evolution of organic systems is determined by the principle of the organism's reproductive success not by Ideality, Macro-Micro, Completeness, Controllability, and other TRIZ principles.

On the level of a whole organism, TRIZ principles again do not play any role. Since the function of an organism is to reproduce, according to the principle of Ideality it should evolve toward an Ideal Reproductive System. Viruses are almost there: they are just DNA with a few protein molecules attached. All the necessary reproductive machinery is taken from the surrounding resources. All the functionality is executed on extreme micro-level. They reproduce by making themselves a part of another organism, a super-system. They are almost an Ideal Final Result of TRIZ.

Viruses are not on the top of evolution of all other organisms, being parasites. Advanced organisms evolve by adding more parts and systems, by transferring functionality to a macro-level, by developing functions, which are farther removed from reproduction per se. They consistently improve their main purpose of reproductive success, but they do it not by a simple, TRIZ-like, straightforward upgrade of the reproductive function.

As another example, some primitive organisms simply die after fulfilling their reproductive mission. This seems to be ideal from the TRIZ perspective: a system disappears after it has its function fulfilled. To increase ideality, they even sometimes get recycled, for example when a bearing female eats the male thus using him as an energy resource. However, more advanced organisms live long after they stop reproducing. Isn't it a waste? It is not - they protect the youngsters, or teach them, or take care of them in other ways, thus increasing their chances to successfully reproduce later.

More advanced evolution occurs not by following simple, straightforward TRIZ principles, but by using sophisticated, circuitous tactics, sometimes in direct contradiction with the TRIZ principles. Maybe simple technologies in the beginning of technical evolution followed the simple TRIZ principles, while more advanced technologies have also outgrown them?