TRIZ and Intelligent Design: a Case of Mistaken Identity.

G. L. Filkovsky, TRIZ Master,
Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
e-mail:genady@diverecord.com

Proponents of Intelligent Design use TRIZ for supporting their claim that nature by itself is not capable of producing the diversity and complexity of real life (see e.g. http://www.designinference.com/documents/2001.06.Interpr_Evol_Conf.htm, http://www.designinference.com/documents/2002.10.27.Disciplined_Science.htm, http://www.iscid.org/papers/Bracht_InventionsAlgorithms_112601.pdf ). They like TRIZ because it distinguishes between routine and inventive problems. While a routine problem can be solved by trial and error tinkering (cf. Darwinian evolution), an inventive problem requires a major conceptual leap (cf. design). They see TRIZ as a theory of such leaps, which they compare to the emerging of major groups like phyla and classes in biology.

These Intelligent Design advocates miss the central point: how TRIZ deals with inventive problems. TRIZ postulates that trial and error is capable but is extremely ineffective in the case of a non-routine problem. It also postulates that human intelligence by itself does not have an effective way of dealing with inventive problems. Faced with such a problem, one should not try to solve it like a routine problem. Instead, one should use TRIZ to analyze the problem, simplify, reduce it to a well-defined problem or a series of such, and then solve this deduced problem or problems. After the TRIZ analyses, the problem is modified in such a way that it can be solved by human intelligence after only a few trials.

An inventive leap is conceptual, not systemic. A problem and an area of search are significantly changed, but not the system. Quite opposite: the elegant TRIZ solutions are those where impressive results are achieved by minimal modifications of the existing system. TRIZ does not teach how to make big changes. It teaches how to achieve big results with small changes.

This is not the Intelligent Design approach to evolution. This is exactly the Darwinian approach: big conceptual leaps can be achieved by small organic changes. Nature is capable of the later.

Moreover, nature is better at this than humans. As TRIZ postulates and the Intelligent Design proponents agree, in inventive problem solving, The great obstacle is psychological inertia, which artificially constricts a solution space rather than opening it to undreamt of possibilities. Nature does not a have a psychology; hence it does not suffer from the psychological inertia, and consequently it is not restricted by this obstacle.