With all this talk of Alien Lifeforms over the past few weeks, I have been pondering a small question. May be a simple yes, no answer. May not.
Can a species accidently uplift another species? I say unadvanced in the title, because I'm not looking at advanced alien societies and technology. Only past and fairly current day methods. Nothing fancy.
In the David Brin Novels, Uplift refers to genetically modifying a species to purposely bring about sapience. I assume alot of work is done in the Lab. What I was wondering, can you do everything short of going into a lab and cutting and splicing Genes and Uplift a Species. (I've only read the one book, so forgive me if this actually mentioned in the other books. I haven't been able to find any synopsises that mention this example of Uplift).
Pretty Much, Can Domestication and the process of breeding for particular traits accidently bring about a creature that becomes sapient. Sapience was not the goal, at least initially, but an unexpected side effect. Not limited to humans and Earth but including aliens. Possibly not fully sapient in the David Brin sense of the word 'Uplift', but a proto-sapience? with full sapience a couple thousand or hundred thousand years later.
I know we currently breed animals for reliability and passiveness eg cattle, sheep etc. Therefore I wouldn't expect a cow to accidently gain Sapience. But some domesticated animals are highly intelligent. eg dogs, cats, some birds. A few more years of breeding and they may just turn around and say 'ENOUGH!'. Some may say Cats are the ones who actually rule us...
Some animals are naturally intelligent with little to no interference from humans. eg whales, dolphins, some monkeys (some monkeys are already in the beginning of the Stone Age, did you know that?). A few hundred years of selective breeding could see a potential change for the 'better' (Maybe they are already fully sapient and we just can't understand them!).
How far can a species be Uplifted without genetic modification in a lab setting? Could we (or an alien society) accidently set a species onto the road to Sapience? Make that Species skip several hundred thousand years of 'natural' selection and direct the species evolution in such a way that sapience is gained in a few thousand years of domestication? What other ways are there to accidently uplift another species?