In his study of technical innovations, Alshuller found that there were patterns in the development of technical systems. He called them the Laws of Technical System Evolution. While not laws per se, much like “Moore’s Law” these observations can be used to help anticipate and act upon the likely changes to come.
These laws fall into three categories: Statics, Kinematics and Dynamics.
These laws can be used to assess the viability of newly created technical systems.
A working system must have an engine, a transmission, a working unit and a control element. Taking a power drill as an example, the engine is the motor, the transmission is the gearing and the chuck, the working unit is the drill bit and the control element is the trigger and associated circuitry.
Statics: ENERGY CONDUCTIVITY
For a system to function properly, energy must flow freely and efficiently through the four elements described in Completeness above. In the case of the power drill, if excess energy is lost in the motor, the gearing, a worn drill bit or an inefficient trigger circuit, the system is not functioning well.
Statics: harmonized rhythm
The elements described in Completeness must also be optimized for harmonized rhythm. For example if the motor creates impulses at a frequency that is damped by the drill bit flexing, then energy will be wasted.
These laws define how technical systems evolve regardless of conditions.
Kinematics: Increasing Ideality
An ideal system will produce all the benefits without any cost or harm. Improving a system increases its ideality.
Kinematics: Uneven development
Improvements to a system may be limited to one of the elements described in Completeness, resulting in uneven development. A productive line of thinking is, “In what element is this system the least ideal, and how may I improve that?”
Kinematics: transition to a super-system
Once a knife is perfected, the next question his how to improve the knife block, for example.
These laws define how technical systems evolve under specific conditions.
Dynamics: Transition from macro to micro level
The development of working systems proceeds at first on a macro and then a micro level. This resembles an artist first making a rough hewn sculpture and then returning to improve the details. This is a productive line of thinking: “If the system works but is not ideal, are there small details that can be attended to that will add up to improved ideality?”
Dynamics: Transition from mechanical to electro-magnetic
For any system, an electromagnetic alternative is often simpler, more efficient and more effective. Examples include using lasers to label fruit, medical imaging as an alternative to surgery, and a CD player’s laser vs a record player’s needle.