I won't get into the AI of the games mention (not just because the people who wrote them mostly work with Stardock now). I will say that the AI in GalCiv III on release day is certainly as good if not better than most 4X titles on their release days.
I mean, if you guys want it really tough, I can make a super tough AI in a few hours that will beat you. It'll cheat like crazy but you'll get a challenge. That is, after all, what most game AIs do (Civilization included).
The challenge here is to get an AI that plays by the same rules as the player and even on the harder difficulties is still playing by the same rules as much as possible.
Judging a pre-release AI, however, is not especially useful. What is useful is identifying specific things. I think people would be surprised at how quickly (think engineering minutes) it takes to fix dumb AI stuff.
1) Not specializing buildings. Money, manu, and research buildings on the same planet, which it should be only 1 type (maybe a few manu buildings just to speed things along, but you should not see money and research buildings on the same planet....even if a tile gives a big bonus to it.
It does this. It just apparently is not picking it well. I'll ask them to look more into that (I don't write that part of the AI)
4) Not moving the slider as strongly towards a specialty as it should.
It is getting better at this. The problem is that there is no such thing as "should" with AI. Should is a subjective opinion. Over the next year or so, this is an area the AI will get a lot better at since we'll all be better at the game.
Attacking Starbases when you can't win (pirates should to be really bad about this in 6.0, I've noticed improvement in 6.1). Further, they don't do it to "soften it up". They will attack it, and no other ships will attack it, even if they are only a few turns around from the starbase.
This should hopefully be reduced in the next udpate. The idea was to try to soften them up but the combat ratings are not doing the softening.
Not attacking Starbases aggressively. Once the AI has a "kill fleet", it won't target starbases aggressively. Best example I have is a full Thalan fleet (all logistics used) nearby one of my starbases that was near 2 of their planets, and it didn't take it out.
Only one of the last two issues can be true. That's not suggesting that you're not seeing what you're seeing. It's a matter of the AI deciding what matters in different cases.
Over time, it'll keep getting better and better.