A way to look at it:
The devs didn't realise how difficult it would be for them to create an AI that could manage that circle and build queue at the same time with the efficiency and micro that a human can. In their old AI design they would never? set the circles on extremes 100/0/0 or 50/50/0 to make sure that things would never stop being built, or from having other AI side-effects. And this lead to huge AI planetary inefficiency compared to the player.
So in order to equalise the playing field, they forced the same ineficiency on the player. The circle is still there in the code, you just can't make the right choice and you are forced to use the AI choices as well.
And now the AI feels much stronger. (granted there were other additions to the code as well)
But the players feel that they are playing a lesser game. Why? Cause the choices are now fixed and very simple and always lead to inefficiency. The player that knows how the numbers are calculated feels stupid and keeps saying to himself "That's not what I want in my worlds"
Game AI being a hard nut to crack and all, you can't really call a tic-tac-toe AI an achievenet, since that game is too simple. But to follow the route of stripping choice from a game? why? because you can't write a competent AI for it?
Well, if planetary efficiency for the AI was a problem, just give them a base 20/20/20 resource amount (as if they had 20% of pop in each category extra) for free on normal and let it play in a 1.4 manner but unlock the circle for the player. But that's cheating! and a reason to start another crusade... Yet I didn't realise when GC vs the AI became an e-sport and the fact remains that we still give it those unholy bonuses on higher difficulties.
But what stinks, at least for me, is the planet model: There is no worker capacity for buildings and each provides an abstract % that could apply from a single person all the way up to quadrillions if you could fit them on the planet. Perhaps a solution/compromise lies in the design space between this production model and MOO2 model.
Too late for such a huge change after release you say? Well what do you call the 1.4 changes then? small?
I still feel that 1.4 butchered the game.