Some historical consideration, if you will.
Wiki Wikipedia History of Communication
All dates are stolen from wikipedia, and very very approximate, don't bother to correct them unless there is a glaring error.
- Invention of speech: Forever + 1 day ago
- Invention of writing: 3000BC
- Invention of printing press: 1440
- Invention of car: 1770
- Invention of train: 1800
- Invention of telephone: 1870
- Invention of radio: 1890
- Invention of plane: 1900
- Invention of computer: 1940
- Invention of internet: 1960
- Invention of space shuttle: 1970
- Invention of World Wide Web: 1990
- Invention of Google: 1998
- Invention of Facebook: 2004
- Invention of Twitter: 2006
- Invention of StackOverflow: 2008
Ok, so what do all of these items and dates have in common? They're all transportation & communications technologies. As transportation is improved, more people are able to come together from a greater distance. As communications are improved, more people are able to share in the resources of a community.
Facebook and twitter provide forums for communication, and communication is very important. Albert Einstein wasn't a genius on an island, he was a genius who surrounded himself with amazingly smart people to learn amazingly complex things.
I believe many of the technologies on this list would have been developed faster with the presence of social networking. Imagine if Orville and Wilbur Wright had posted their flight video to YouTube? It would have gone viral, and we probably wouldn't have taken 45 years to break the sound barrier.
@Berlin Brown you mention that researchers need complex models and software to solve their problems. I believe that completely disregards the creative power of the social human mind. Much progress has been made by the serendipity of an outsider who happens to make a naive suggestion that just happens to work.
And really, if we had to trade away our art and culture to rid ourselves of disease, would our "healthy" life be worth living?
What kind of software should we write?
I prefer not to answer normative questions with no moral context. I try to write the best software that I can. I try to incorporate usability, accessibility, and entertainment to the best of my abilities. I believe that is the kind of software I should write, but you are allowed to disagree.
What technology should we deliver?
Whenever possible I try to make something new. I want the software I write to be useful and helpful. If I make another person's life easier, I feel that I have been successful.