Why Laws of Technical Systems Evolution can't successfully predict a system evolution

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

TRIZ has had a mostly stable set of, what it claims to be the Laws of Technical Systems evolution. TRIZ also claims that one can apply the Laws of Technical Systems Evolution to a technical system to predict its future evolution or to make its next evolutionary step.

Aside from solving specific problems, TRIZ disciples failed to demonstrate successful predictions, not to mention significant ones. These past decades witnessed many tremendous technological changes, but none of these important "evolutionary steps" were predicted by TRIZ.

This negative phenomenon can be explained by any of the following assumptions:

1. The Laws are false, incomplete, or imprecise. The valid and unrefuted assumption that the laws of technical systems evolution simply do not exist is also a variant of this assumption.
2. The disciples are lazy or openly stupid.
3. The TRIZ claim is erroneous.

There is a lot to be shown in support of assumption 1. Many TRIZ disciples prove assumption 2. Regardless of the status of these two assumptions, assumption 3 is the strongest. It means that even a true and complete knowledge of laws of technical systems evolution would not provide a method for making a step in the evolution of a technical system.

The article, Scientific Knowledge, Technical Evolution, and Prediction (The Anti TRIZ-Journal, Vol.2, No.5), supplies a logical argument supporting this assumption. Below, I use a simple mechanical analogy to support it more specifically.

TRIZ deducts the Laws of Technical Systems Evolution from the analysis of many evolutionary steps of many evolving systems. The quantitative claims go from tens of thousands to millions of inventions. TRIZ disciples believe that this quantity is the strength of the Laws. I believe that it is their weakness. Let's take the Gas Laws (you know, Boyle's Law, Charles's Law, etc).

The Gas Laws describe quite completely the behavior of gases. The behavior they describe is a result of movements of many gas molecules, but in no way these laws can be applied to the motion of a single gas molecule. In no way knowledge of these laws can be used to predict what will happen next, to any specific molecule. This is not because we don't know all of the gas laws, and not because we don't have tools to apply them, but because these laws by their nature are the volume laws. Altshuller asked, "How can inventions be random while their result, technical evolution, is not?" They can be, similar to gas molecules: molecular movements are random and because of that, gas volume abides by the Gas Laws.

Evolution is a long-term, multi-step process. Laws of evolution are not the laws, which would describe individual change of an individual system. Laws of technical systems evolution cannot predict a change of a specific technical system in any specific moment. Laws of biological evolution cannot predict a change of a specific species in a specific moment. The theory of probabilities cannot predict the next winning lottery number. Economic laws cannot predict tomorrow's price of a specific stock. Social laws cannot predict an individual life change. Forest ecology cannot predict a turn of a tree's branch. ... You got the point.

The very idea to base a theory of technical problem solving on laws of technical systems evolution is doomed.