This 1923 cartoon predicted the 2023 advent of generative AI

A 1923 comic for New York World by cartoonist H. T. Webster (1885-1952) depicts a cartoonist standing next to an "Idea Dynamo" powered contraption that's drawing a cartoon (it looks like the title of the cartoon is "How to Torture Your Wife"). The room is filled with stacks of thousands of comics drawn by the machine. The cartoonist is standing behind the machine, talking to a friend on the phone.

"This Frank Casey?" says the cartoonist. "Say, Frank, how 'bout a little salmon fishing up in Labrador? Fine! We'll start this afternoon. Tell Roy to come along." The cartoonist doesn't have to work any longer, because his Idea Dynamo is doing his job for him.

The cartoon is making the rounds on social media because it uncannily predicts the rise of generative AI in 2023. It also appeared in my friend Craig Yoe's 2013 book, Comics About Cartoonists: Stories About the World's Oddest Profession.

I asked Midjourney to generate a "scan of an old 1923 newspaper cartoon about a cartoonist who is relaxing because he has a mechanical contraption that draws cartoons by itself." Here's the output:

Webster was featured on the cover of the November 26, 1945 edition of Time magazine.

(Thanks, Dylan!)