By Alex Zakharov
You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.
-- Albert Einstein
When discussing the origins of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) as well as its scientific role and future possibilities, it is important to understand: its definition, how to analyze the usage of its tools, the role it plays as a science and how it might be used better in the future.
Trends, evolution, nature, inventive problem, solution, universality, civilization, problem, singularity, theory of evolution, artificial intelligence
TRIZ involves revealing and studying natural trends in evolution (the theoretical part); the development of recommendations, rules and techniques of trends (the methodological part); and the use of these recommendations for the creation and/or development of engineering systems (the practical part). The knowledge of trends and their usage is a tool of problem-solving in technology, manufacturing, society and nature. Problem solving in any system is a transformation (conversion, change, hand-made evolution) of the system from its problematic state into a system without problems, or new system creation by natural means (objective) or trends of evolution.
Defining TRIZ in its current context is not enough. TRIZ is constantly evolving and it is this change that is critical to understanding the future roles of TRIZ among other tools of knowledge, and its transformation among the traditional sciences and their applications.
Valentin Turchin, a Russian cybernetics and computer scientist, wrote in the Phenomenon of Science, "… the transition to the next stage occurs by multiplication of such systems and integration of them – by joining them into a single whole with the formation of a control system headed by a new subsystem, which now becomes the highest controlling device in the new stage of evolution."1 In TRIZ this process is recognized as the "transition onto super-system." But if conditions permit, and the transition to a new hierarchical level is absent, this suggests that something is wrong in TRIZ's evolution.
Nikolay Shpakovsky, a TRIZ master, says:
TRIZ has been defined in many different ways:
If TRIZ is only defined as a problem-solving method nothing will change; the fuzzy idea of the method with a "dark" sub-consciousness, which provides a solution, will be used repeatedly. Therefore, users of TRIZ need to use "any system's improvement" expression, to describe or define TRIZ. Only then can TRIZ move from the fuzzy support of the sub-consciousness to the solid ground of objective reality.
Here it is – the system, which is revealed by a person's senses – the system, which needs to be improved. Problem solvers may touch it, disassemble it, describe its functions, reveal its harmful effects and develop a cause and effect chain, discover the element(s) that are responsible for key harmful effects, and, at last, change the "bad" element(s).
If an idea did not come after an elemental, structural, functional or other type of analysis, it means that either the analysis was not done carefully enough, or there was a lack of knowledge applied to the problem-solving process.
Because TRIZ is one of the mankind's tools for problem-solving, it is important to understand the higher level of a system's hierarchy and its historical perspectives in order to see where it may be heading in the future. Studies show the shrinking of periods of evolution. As a result, in 2020 (or a bit later, on a historical scale) mankind will transition and cross the singularity point. The tendency is clear – the constant acceleration of biological evolution, and then the technological shift; the qualitative change of civilization evolution is ever closer.9 Singularity is near. It is interesting to compare the paradigm shift to the calculation capacity of mankind in the form of a supercomputer's power rising.10
Around the year 2020 a supercomputer's intelligence will be equal to that of the human brain. The singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. Several technologies are often mentioned as heading in this direction:
Some of these technologies seem likely to arrive earlier than the others, but there are nonetheless several independent technologies all heading in the direction of singularity.11 Accelerated evolution brings new problems such as complexity, uncertainty and many signs of problems surround us, including threats to global survival.
This generalization can be seen in Figure 1:
Thus, even if it sounds unrealistic, TRIZ may become a core part of the development of artificial intelligence systems. The following describes the evolution of the problem-solving path:
Consider a device, X:
This dialog looks like a Turing (or reasonableness) test – if as a result of the dialog the problem solution, i.e., the true way of transformation of a problem system into a system without problems, was found. It does not matter to the Client who talked with him, asked the questions and offered the solution – the machine (program) or the human being.
Forecasting TRIZ development occurs in a series of steps:
The following changes were made:
Considering additions, changes and exceptions, the whole, consistent, rigid and natural sequence (circuit, scheme) trends of evolution were developed.
This specific software described the evolution of objects of the organic and non-organic nature, the process of designing, decision-making process (management), the evolution of collectives and organizations, a scientific method, genetic algorithm, trial-and-error and non-algorithmic methods of activation of creative thinking – all are tools of classical TRIZ.
Software is developed and used constantly. The dialog with the software may look like a conversation with a wise man, to whom you go to ask advice. Or this dialog may be similar to a conversation with the specialist, the TRIZ expert or with an AI system. This software system's view of the world makes the dialogs invariant, and not dependent on the carrier or a particular view of the world. It allows users to state that TRIZ in the form of this software is the core of an artificial intelligence system.
TRIZ is changing qualitatively. The first stage is TRIZ itself; the second stage is the theory of development of a creative person (TDCP); and the third stage is yet unknown. Specialists in TRIZ are leaving technology behind. Sometimes the nostalgic feelings for technological problems appear, but the trend is transitioning toward a super-system operating without dependence on human will. Tomorrow the center of events will be at TDCP, and then the third stage will come – what will it look like?
TRIZ was born, developed and became a problem-solving method for technology, manufacturing, society and nature. The basis of TRIZ is the objective trends of natural evolution. So, TRIZ is a theoretical, methodological and practical part of the theory of evolution.
Trends, which were revised, re-thought and presented in a new form, will be used as a basis for creating the next generation of TRIZ – a universal computer program, which is intended for researching the evolution of any systems. The traditional name for such program is artificial intelligence.
Functions of AI will help civilization solve the problems of singularity. TRIZ in the form of AI gives the world a chance.
Alex Zakharov, a 4th level certified TRIZ Specialist, is both a researcher and developer. Mr. Zakharov has assisted with many innovative projects in different companies to include IMCorp. and Pragmatic Vision Int'l. His main area of interest is with the evolution of methods of systems' transformation: from trials-and-errors to non-algorithmic methods, and from TRIZ to artificial intelligence. Contact Alex Zakharov at TRIZ-Evolution (at) Comcast.net.