Article Review:
Adaptive evolution in biology and technology: Why are parallels expected? - a comment on Mann (2003), by Peter Kaplan

G. L. Filkovsky,
Nomura Securities International,
New York, USA

I have to say that I enjoyed very much this article ([1]): it is informative, interesting, well written, thoughtful, in one word, professional. Which is an extreme anomaly for the TRIZ journal. Plus, this is not the only anomaly regarding this article. Even a larger one is that this article rather belongs to the Anti TRIZ journal: it shows - again, but this time in a pure academic form, - that D.Mann does not know what he is talking about, does not know how to talk or to think about it and does not know what he does not know. This is not new, of course, but the patience with which P.Kaplan treats D.Mann seriously and politely, is impressive. Here are just a few examples: "the arguments he [Mann] presents are burdened with several conceptual and factual flaws", "Mann's ready explanation... is interesting, but logically irrelevant", "[Mann's] argument...[is] a contortion of just-so storytelling and semantic manipulation", "[Mann's] reasoning...[is] attempting to provide an explanation for a nonexistent pattern", etc.

Unfortunately, P.Kaplan makes factual mistakes regarding TRIZ, especially, when he claims that in The Innovation Algorithm [2] Altshuller "assembled myriad observations on biological role, function, design and evolutionary history". P.Kaplan's knowledge of TRIZ probably based on TRIZ journal articles, rather than on the actual TRIZ. In reality, Altshuller's study did not seek "to draw parallels between biological and technological design" and Altshuller had used any such parallel for demonstration purposes only; thus, there is nothing strange in fact that "Altshuller's subsequesnt derivation of laws of technological evolution [3] was without explicit reference to biological systems".

Fortunately, this is about an extent to which P.Kaplan relates to the subject that is not in his area of expertise. Instead, he wisely concentrates on evolutionary biology, which seems to be in a such, and clearly demonstrates that D.Mann fails the test. I'd recommend D.Mann to follow this example and to stop going into subjects, which are not in his area of expertise. Even if it means to stop going into any subjects, since he seems to be an expert in none.

How did this article get into the TRIZ journal? I can see two explanations to this anomaly:
1. They couldn't resist an author with a Yale e-mail address, mentioning TRIZ and Mann.
2. They couldn't understand the article and probably didn't even read it to the end; all they could figure out was that it "should stir some thought" [4].

R E F E R E N C E S:

  1. Peter Kaplan, Adaptive evolution in biology and technology: Why are parallels expected? - a comment on Mann (2003), The TRIZ-journal, May 2003.
  2. G.S. Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm, 1969.
  3. G.S. Altshuller, Creativity as an Exact Science, 1977.
  4. The TRIZ-journal, May 2003.