"They're dragging your ass in the Assorted Links"
This post would have been interesting if it had been brief and clear.
Your conclusion seems to me to horribly confuse two different things. I share your panic at the overwhelming flood of information. But I can't for the life of me think that stemming it at the source is a good thing. What we need is for that information to be out there, so that institutions and machines can use it for useful purposes. And we need high quality filters that stop the deluge crashing down on the head of innocent net surfers.
Tyler Cowen is one of my filters - he read the net so I don't have to.
"Information Monster" or "Infomaniac"???
So this is a very slighty coded diss of Cowen, behind the screen of a silly diss. No, two disses, that I can see; perhaps there are more.
A properly intelligent being can operate according to Blake's Rules: "to see a world in a grain of sand, and Heaven in a flower / to hold infinity in the palm of [his] hand, and Eternity in an hour." Such a being has little ongoing need for information. Minor checks here and there, to see which of the manifold pathways of possibility is being taken; that's all.
The minor diss is that Cowen's apparent laziness should be taken as a sign of actual laziness; and his increasing gnomism should also be taken at face value, as a sign that he is burned out. This is entirely to be expected. (Welcome to old age, Tyler. Whatever your desire for information may be, you are not putting it to good use any more.)
Cowen is sometimes against making more highly interesting information available.
-As a matter of principle: he favors privacy for tax avoiders who haven't been convicted of anything: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/04/the-morality-of-panama-papers.html
-As a matter of prudence: he is skeptical of nuclear strategy being debated publicly: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2007/02/are_parliamenta.html
This one is more complex, and he is also quoting another writer, so I won't try to summarize it: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/06/whats-really-wrong-wikileaks.html
You dismiss the "utility monster" as not corresponding to anything in reality. But then you coin the term "information monster" to refer to Tyler Cowen, a real human who actually exists. If you think that people like Tyler Cowen are in the minority, and that a utilitarian calculus outweighs their benefit via the losses to the majority, why not just say so explicitly?
> re-assert our collective ability to definition a destination, a goal, something to progress towards
I must agree with Robin Hanson: humans didn't assert a "collective ability" to do that when we evolved culture, agriculture, the industrial revolution, etc. We just did it because once it started somewhere there was no way for the rest of humanity to stop it. On the other hand, I also agree with his co-blogger Alex along with Scott Sumner on him being wrong about congestion pricing, just so you don't think I'm only going to disagree with you.
Here's how a lefty with an all-but-thesis in AI from Roger Schank sees the world. YMMV.
I've not tried very hard to figure out TC, but assume (unless proven otherwise) that he's a right wing hack. That would certainly explain his putting up with the noise in his comment section and selecting things that would lead to said noise. Second cousin to Freakonomics (which was wrong about just about everything). Detritus from Chicago (freshwater) economics. Similarly, I see effective altruism as slightly warmed-over libertarianism, which is also right-wing hack city. These are ideas that only lead to plusses for rich folks, not humanity in general (that being the technical definition of right-wing hackery, although sometimes a "white" is needed in there for empirical in addition to logical coverage).
On AI, I do have an axe to grind. What LLMs do is exactly and only random recombination of strings of undefined tokens (or at least that's what the inventors say). As such, that's the very definition of a parlor trick. There's no there there. It doesn't do logic, reasoning, understanding. It beautifully and amazingly _appears_ to do logic, reasoning, understanding, but it doesn't. So there's no there there. I'm not sure how that relates to the "AI is going to destroy the world" idea. Human gullibility when dealing with said parlor trick might destroy the world. But that won't be the parlor trick's fault. There will be actors who gain involved. Follow the money, as the TV detectives sometimes say.
(Truth in advertising: I saw a hyper-enthused math youtube channel introduction to LLMs a couple of years ago. I crossed it off as a really stupid idea and a complete waste of time (a factually and logically correct analysis, but as a decision, it left me surprised and horrified at the current brouhaha.))
I have two opposing theories of Tyler: one is that "marginal revolution" is exactly what he wants, and if he sees somebody as pushing too hard - even in the direction he wants to go - he will publicly criticize and argue against them (example: Bryan Caplan, EA advocates)
The other one is the boring "Tyler is a Straussian" one. If he publishes something with unusually bad arguments, it's because he wants to show how lame he thinks the position they argue for is.
Never considered that he might be an information monster, though!