Why does the Reg keep on reproducing these articles from the Conversation authored by failing academics?
I assume the author of this one found an editorial from the early 70s, jazzed it up a bit and sent it for publication (an example of this is the editorial Welfare Farewell from Analog of April 1973).
At that time the buzzword was NIT (Negative Income Tax). Programs were run in the US which gave mixed results mainly because no one was sure of what they were doing and they were too short to give significant results.
Applied to today, there is no reason why NIT wouldn't work, in fact it could cause an upswing in overall wealth for everyone (it would give, for example, a programmer that has an idea for the ultimate program the time to write and test said program without them ending up destitute).
Automation is only 'bad' from the point of view of the 18th and 19the century 'work ethic' which says that people have to work to be happy and support themselves (it also makes the boss very happy from the wealth he gains off the back of the worker). Once you remove the idea that people 'have' to work to live and start looking at people that want to work for extra pocket money automation becomes a tool to do that.