Editor’s note: Guest writer Vivek Wadhwa is an entrepreneur turned academic. He is a Visiting Scholar at the School of Information at UC-Berkeley, Senior Research Associate at Harvard Law School and Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University. You can follow him on Twitter at @vwadhwaand find his research at www.wadhwa.com.

A recent column by Netscape co-founder, software entrepreneur and noted Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreesen caused a stir in the tech community. Andreesen postulated that the software industry was “eating the world” and “poised to take over broad swathes of the economy.” This is delusional.

It’s a clear case of someone with a hammer – Andreesen developed software, ran software companies, and now invests in software companies – seeing everything as a nail. The irony is, software is hardly a hotbed of innovation.

While technology races ahead in many other fields, software has advanced but meagerly in the past 20 years. In terms of solving grand challenges, software has largely failed to deliver. Take the case of voice recognition. It’s much better than it was in areas like airlines’ reservation phone trees. But despite billions of research dollars, no company has produced commercially available, affordable voice-recognition software that can understand and transcribe, from voice to text, conversations involving multiple voices. Likewise, voice recognition software requires training to work well – it’s not speaker independent. Yes, an IBM (NYSE: IBM ) team did take on live Jeopardy! champions and beat them, but the Herculean effort required to program a supercomputer to accomplish this just illustrates the enormous chasm that continues to exist between software and the solution of truly great challenges.

Compare this to advances in fields like DNA profiling and decoding. Over the course of a mere two decades, the ability to sequence or perform tests on DNA has become orders of magnitude cheaper – even to the point that sub-$100 DNA testing services will likely emerge within the next three years. Or how about the field of 3D printers, a mind-bending class of devices that fabricate three-dimensional objects and even devices with moving parts. It can do this in a matter of minutes by layering precise patterns of materials painstakingly and accurately with the help of software and smart computers (note: software plays a supporting role here!). In the race to innovate and serve the developing world, companies like General Electric (NYSE: GE ) are developing medical imaging technologies that cost 1/10th or 1/20th the price of comparable devices sold in the U.S.

Read the rest of }}a href=”external_link-3″}}Wadhwa’s commentary in BusinessWeek.

Get the latest news alerts: Follow WRAL Tech Wire at Twitter.