I think that once it was observed early in the 17th century that silver salts darkened on exposure to light, the evolution of the negative/positive photographic process was inevitable.
Even though it took until the mid-18th century for the neg/pos process to really emerge as the calotype followed by the wet plate, it was obvious from the start that silver salts produced a negative image and it would have taken no great intelligence to deduce that many identical positives could be made if somehow a single negative could be reversed. The idea was there long before it became possible to make the actual products and a process like the Daguerreotype was but a dead-end detour along the road - it was always going to be superceded.
It's much the same as postulating what would have happened if additive colour processes like Autochrome and Dufaycolor had not been superceded by subtractive processes like Kodacolor and Agfacolor - there were technical people who had the belief that it was possible and there were others who had the financial motivation to ensure that it happened. OzJohn