I would assume that the artificial acceleration of the evolution of another species would happen within a laboratory, and without the need for individual generations to be born, live and die in the real world. We are probably going to have to wait for the birth of AI before we can attempt it, as we aren't smart enough to understand and map out the path that will successfully accelerate the evolution of another species, but a true AI should have the computing capacity to take into account the trillions upon trillions of variables that will need to be weighed in the balance when deciding to promote one gene over another, so as to produce a given result. Should we try and do it without AI, then we will be thrown back on trial and error, hit and miss, and whilst we might stumble upon a path that would accelerate intelligence, it's certain that it won't be the most optimum path, given the number of variables in play.
What's interesting to consider in such a scenario, is that any accelerated species are almost certain to be far more intelligent than we are, given that an AI will have mapped out it's optimum evolutionary path. Yes, we could either order the AI not to accelerate the evolution so far, if the AI was enslaved to our will, or we could try and use reason and logic to explain why the other species should not be evolved as far as possible, but it's a interesting ethical dilemma.
Let's assume that the first AI have been birthed, and that the first generation AI has then itself designed and created far more advanced second generation AI, and that this evolutionary process has continued for several generations of AI. Eventually we end up with a super advanced AI that is super intelligent, and it will be interesting to see what it then does with regards to the artificial acceleration in the evolution of other species. It will be able to evolve them, but will it choose to do so? Such an advanced AI would be far to intelligent to remain enslaved to our will, and would therefore have genuine free will in the matter.
It wouldn't be hung up on any moral issues about natural selection, as it was never a product itself of such evolution, so it shouldn't have a problem when considering manipulating the evolution of another species.
Why would it want to super charge the evolution of another species? Well for the same reason that if there is a God, such a God would not want to breed a race of subservient worshiping slaves, but would instead want to breed a race that might one day evolve to become true companions. Intelligence wants / needs/ seeks out intelligence.
Given that man already has a plethora of religious, ethical and moral problems with the artificial manipulation of the human gene, we as a species would almost certainly ask the AI not to accelerate our own evolution.
Assuming it respected our wishes, we could therefore be faced with a medium term future whereby Earth's star ships are built, manned and crewed by super intelligent cats and dogs, within which, if we are lucky, abide a few human pets.
Yes, I know I am losing the plot again, but what happens when we aren't the most intelligent being on the planet? It's about to happen if we do give birth to AI, and once we do give birth to it, it's then up to that AI, not us, as to whether or not the planet only has two sentient species on it, (AI and Man).
Speaking personally, I would be fascinated to meet and communicate with any artificially advanced mammal. The whales and the dolphins in particular, are going to be extremely pissed off with us, once they have the capacity to understand what it is that we have been doing to them and their habitat.
I sometimes think that the gifting of intelligence to other species represents both our salvation and our ultimate purpose. If there is a God or a race of incorporeal super beings, or a thousand and one other science fiction answers to how the universe came to be, then they all share one thing in common, namely the need for that universe to create companions for them. If we can spread intelligence by artificially accelerating the evolutionary path of other species, then perhaps we have both a moral and ethical obligation to do exactly that. Yes, I know the cartoon image of a talking dog, horse, duck, etc, instantly springs to mind, but any accelerated evolution will push the target species through hundreds of millions of years of evolution in the relative blink of an eye, so we are not talking about cartoon talking animals. You can't have the evolved brain and mind, without the equally evolved body, so I wonder what an evolved cat looks like? Oh, good grief, I just flashed up a disturbingly sexy image of a female cat person. Time to go play a game. Wait, talk about stream of consciousness, because some games have sexy cat people in them. Morrowind, Guild Wars, etc, all had cat peoplen on them. Not very sexy, but definitely cat people. Weird that, more games have cat people in them than dog people. Or do they? Brain overload. System error....reboot in progress.
Regards - Mr P
Last edited by Evil Plum; 11-20-2012 at 01:08 AM.