Unless something has changed between the Beta version and release, it's a real problem. On Godlike I have almost all of the mercenaries. The AI does buy mercenaries but does it very, very slowly.
For a human player, it's partly a symptom of diplomacy providing lots of disposable cash (and AI resources if you want) while the OP motivation line under Malevolant ideology supports fast expansion.
For the AI, they sometimes seem to have the disposable cash given the Godlike bonuses, so prima facie should be more active buying them.
Stardock mentioned they will look into it. But without this fixed, it's somewhat like the Precursor DLC again, which was released without giving the AI the capability of using the content. Here, the AI CAN use the content but are extremely ineffective. Either way human players can use them to dominate the AI very easily.
As for AI Survey Ships, they can now survey defended anomalies, but the last I saw in the Beta they could auto-defeat the defenders without having sufficient forces to do so. If that remains the case, it's an AI cheat. That said, I assume it was a placeholder and is sorted in the release version ... hopefully.
I'll give the release version a spin tonight, but if anybody has observations any material changes, it would be worth mentioning.