Discussion of the "TRIZ and Darwinism" article

G. Filkovsky:

Have read your "TRIZ and Darwinism" article and have some critique. TRIZ and Darwinism are different, no doubt. I understand that the main point of your article is introducing the "evolutionary dimensions", rather than comparing between TRIZ and Darwinism. Nevertheless, the similarities part of it is weak. The only similarity you show is the analogy between diversification-and-selection and trial-and-error. However these mechanisms are not similar. Only a starting point is similar, i.e. a random change, but what happens after that is not. Diversification-and-selection would rather be similar to a process in which engineers create a set of modified versions of a system, just for a sake of it, and then external factors like market, management, culture, politics, occasional circumstances, legal restrictions, and fashion, define which modifications hold and where. Things like this do happen in reality but it is not what trial-and-error means.

In TRIZ, "strong" inventions are the result of million trials. In Darwinism, big changes are result of accumulation of little modifications. In other words, trials by TRIZ multiply, while modifications by Darwinism only add up.

Some other weaknesses of the article are:

Y. Karasik:

I do not agree that trials in bio-evolution accumulate but trials in problem solving do not. They also accumulate. You know that if some trial is not successful it does not have to be rejected. Some additional trial on the top of it may solve the problem. In my view "diversification and selection" is completely identical to "trials and errors".

G. Filkovsky:

Interesting, that I see very little in common between the two. We either have a different understanding of "diversification and selection", or of "trials and errors", or of both. Anyway, regarding accumulation, your notice means to me that while modifications in bio-evolution only add up, trials in problem solving add up and multiply.

Y. Karasik:

In bio-evolution they also add up and multiply. Multiplication means branching point, i.e. rejection of one of the trials/mutations and all those which were on the top of it. Adding up means an additional trial on the top of that which alone was not sufficient.

This is the only difference between mutations and trials which I see. A trial may be insufficient and require other trials on the top of it. Whereas if a mutation is not succesful, then the species will die out and there will be no additional mutations on the top of it.

But if unsuccessful mutation does not lead to immediate death of the species, then additional mutations on the top of it may correct/neutralize its negative effect.

If it is the case then there is no difference between trials/errors and diversification/selection at all.

G. Filkovsky:

Here is one of the more fundamental differences between TRIZ and Darwinism that explains most of the others. TRIZ aims to solve problems on levels 2, 3 and 4 and discards "not inventive" level 1. Darwinism aims to reconstruct the entire bio-evolution by level 1 modifications only and discards "creative" levels 2, 3 and 4. From this point, they are two completely different things. Each step on level 1 requires only a few trials. There are no contradictions to overcome on level 1, and no inventive principles needed. Nothing gets created or "qualitatively" changed, but everything is just a slight, "quantitative" variation of something that was there before. Ten little steps of 10 trials each require only 100 trials, while one big step might need an impossible, 10000000000 trials...

Being so different in their very basic vision and goal, it's not a surprise that TRIZ and Darwinism have very little or nothing in common.

Y. Karasik:

The difference that you point out to only indicates that TRIZ is more progressive and more clever than Darwinism. In inventioneering there is also a conceptions that inventions of 2, 3, 4, etc. levels are not needed. That incremental inventions of the first level are accountable for the bulk of technical progress.

Going back to the statements which you ascribe to Darwinism, I am not sure that they do really belong to it. I am not an expert in Darwinism. But if Darwinism does really claim that all evolution is a result of accumulation of slight variations (akin to inventions of the 1st level, as you say), then it is incorrect. There are leaps in variations. Sometimes giant leaps. Those who try to find the "missing chains" of slight variations to explain the "gaps" in evolutionary diversity, are not always right. Sometimes there are missing chains. But there also are unbridgeable gaps (akin to bio inevtions of 2, 3, and 4 levels). This is my belief and my gut filling. I do not have facts at my disposal. I am not a specialist in bio-evolution. But if the Darwinists do really claim what you said, they are wrong.

G. Filkovsky:

I am sure that this is an important postulate of Darwinism. One evidence is the Darwin's quote I used in my other article here, "TRIZ and the Intelligent Design: a Shared Misconception": "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

In my opinion, this makes Darwinism more progressive and clever than TRIZ: everyone before Darwin thought that changes of higher levels are neccessary, it was obvious; Darwin was to have a new view. I'm not a professional evolutionary biologist, although have read a lot on it, and my belief and gut feeling is that Darwinists are right. On the other hand, it has absolutely nothing to do with a technical evolution: Darwinism is exclusively a biological theory.

Y. Karasik:

You convinced me that Darwin really said "slight modifications". However, I am not convinced that he meant what he said.

He directed his theory against the belief that God created species. Created them right away in the contemporary extremely complex form. To highlight his opposition to the right away creation, he used the words "slight modifications". But how slight these "slight" are ? Bio leaps (i.e. bio-inventions of the 2, 3, etc. levels) are also slight as compared to creating humans right away in one step.

I think that by "slight" Darwin did not mean "the slighest possible" (akin to the inventions of the 1st level).

G. Filkovsky:

I agree that "slight modifications" in biology is as vague a term as "level 1 inventions" in TRIZ. By looking into the examples Darwin and Darwinists use, we can get a picture what they mean. Here is one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/biology/variationandinheritance/3evolutionrev2.shtml.

We can define some boundaries of a "slight modification": it should be big enough to give an organism some advantage, but not too big so the modified part or parameter can function together with other, unmodified parts and parameters of organism. ("Part" and "parameter" are not clearly defined.)

Only the actual mutation mechanisms, like a shift in DNA, or a genetic symbioses, explain what is "slight". After all, only 2% of modified DNA separate us from chimpanzee.

Back to technical evolution: wouldn't it be a revolutionary breakthrough to find a way of eliminating need in levels 2, 3 and 4 of inventions and to have instead an efficient method to get any problem solved by a series of successive level 1 modifications? This direction of research sounds new and much more interesting than TRIZ.