On the causes of non-uniform pace of progression of technologies and subsystems of a system

Y. B. Karasik,
Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.

Different technologies and different parts of technological systems progress at different paces. Some progress rapidly while others stay intact for long time. Then a stagnant technology/system may start improving rapidly, whereas a rapidly progressing system/technology may start stagnating. This is one of the technological trends discovered by Altshuller. However he did not discover why this happens. One of the reasons is change in priorities.

For example, at early stages of a system development its performance usually tops the list of priorities. Ecological consequences are at the bottom (if at all realized and included into the list).

For instance, when the priorities in aircraft design were "higher, faster, farther", the subsystems making it environmentally friendly were either non-existent at all or very primitive and not efficient. But when pollution reduction became the priority, such subsystems emerged and became the focus of improvement.

Priorities evolve according to their own laws [1]:

  1. In the beginning reliability and performance top the bill;
  2. Then the quest for maximizing absolute performance characteristics (such as speed, power, etc.) gives way to optimizing specific performance characteristics (such as specific power, etc.) and cost efficiency;
  3. Then ecological parameters become the top priority;
  4. Then moral factors start to play (e.g. appeals "Back to nature !" and "Down with technology !" begin to be heard);
  5. Etc.;

Design priorities affect the direction and pace of evolution of technical systems. Evolution of technical systems affects economy, ecology, demography, etc. Changes in economy, ecology, demography, etc. result in design priorities change. Changes in design priorities result in a correction to the direction and the pace of technical systems evolution. And the cycle repeats itself indefinitely.

That is why accurate technological forecasting is impossible without first accurate forecasting of economical, ecological, demographic, etc. consequences of the progression of technology, which, in turn, is impossible without accurate technological forecasting. It is a vicious circle.

Although change in priorities is behind the non-uniform progression of different subsystems of a system, and evolution of design priorities drives technological evolution, this fact remained so far unnoticed and ignored by TRIZ.

R E F E R E N C E S:

1. Y. B. Karasik, "Evolution of design priorities", Anti TRIZ-Journal (Vol. 7, No. 8).