It seems like on the one hand, we want to encourage people to use absolute imports whenever possible, but on the other hand we don’t want to change the meaning of existing code, nor impose verbose changes everywhere.
It sounds to me like using a leading dot to denote an absolute path comes the closest to satisfying all the objectives. It’s not an eyesore, it’s intuitive because it’s analogous to how filesystem paths work, and it’s not hard to see people using it as the default everywhere (if we were to strongly encourage it). At the same time we don’t have to change the meaning of existing code; paths without a leading dot would continue to be relative.
Whether it should be possible to denote an absolute path in arbitrary expressions, other than import, is a separate question (although if anyone is using root outside of imports, then an important question). There most conservative approach would be to disallow it (for the time being anyway), the next most conservative approach would be to allow it but require parentheses around it so the dot doesn’t attach it to the previous word, and the least conservative approach would be to only require parentheses when there is ambiguity (without parentheses such cases would have to keep their meaning unchanged).