Although the inflation of tech costs itself may be by design, it appears that the inflation rate is far too high (perhaps higher than intended based on Brad's request for a zipped save game above).
Certainly if the inflation rate causes AI players to bog down to the point where they can no longer keep up with human players it is a problem. What I have experienced is that the inflation of tech costs forces me to radically devote more resources to research to make any progress (even at a slow rate), but that is because I am consciously aware of the inflation based slow-down. The AI doesn't seem to adjust to the slow-down, and eventually I am able to significantly overtake the AI (even though it may take hundreds of turns to do so), then I just roll right over the technologically backwards AI. It lacks elegance and satisfaction.
Additionally, while I agree with the idea that too rapid research is unsatisfactory, and that a certain amount of inflation may be appropriate, I also find that the glacial speeds that are appearing now are similarly unsatisfactory. Even while playing with research speeds set to fastest rates, >>60% spending on research and all planets focused on tech, it can often take 50-75 turns to achieve a tech increase. What results is a bout of turn button spam - something that I have never experienced with GalCiv in any of its incarnations before.
Space Empires V has ridiculously "overpriced" technology costs, ostensibly to slow down research to "epic history" proportions, but it turned into turn button spam, and I grew to dislike Space Empires V to the point that I abandoned playing it within a week. I will probably never buy another Space Empires game in future.
The tech inflation issue has (for me at least) radically changed the flavor of the game - even over that of the ToA Beta. I find that I really dislike the way the inflation mechanic is working. Other than a few test games to see if changes in research bonuses altered the inflation rate - I have stopped playing GalCiv2. I am waiting to see if the inflation is rebalanced with the June 1.92 patch. I sincerely hope that it is.
If it is not, well I am left with the option of modding tech tree costs to counteract (to an extent) the inflation, but I would really hate being forced to do that to simply regain the flavor of the game. Additionally, if I am going to spend time modding, I would rather do modding to add "fun" features to the game, not to "correct" a (flawed in my opinion) game mechanic. Ultimately, I doubt that I would be bothered. GalCiv2 will wind up taking the route of Space Empires V and when GalCiv3 (or the talked about upcoming fantasy game) comes along, I might just opt out.