There may be good arguments for a general research mode as an option in a tech strategy. But I’m not sure it addresses the issue. You need to find a way to make it easier to trade. You can make your way through AI well enough, and in that instance the inability to trade balances the usual advantages of having an AI to feast on. So I don’t see that as an issue.
A bigger issue is a corner position, or where you are surrounded by enemies, and in that case one border is usually an edge. Edge position used to be favorable, but the trading restrictions not only balance that advantage but maybe flip it completely to disadvantage, given how much tech inflates in large games.
You may remember Jay how I was beating the drum over in G+ for so-called torusified maps with no edges. You explained that would involve a major rewrite, fair enough.
But what about worm holes? At the risk of repeating myself, the point would be to enable a carrier to travel to a very different spot on the map, and thereby introduce new trading opportunities, not to mention introducing a whole new strategic dimension.