Systems that can better process the vast amount of information now available is the top emerging technology this year, the World Economic Forum said on Wednesday.
"Innovations in how information is organized, mined and processed hold the key to filtering out the noise and using the growing wealth of global information to address emerging challenges," the WEF's Global Agenda Council on emerging technologies said.
Advances in biotechnology, medicine, materials, education, and resource usage were also among the WEF's 10 most important technologies for the world in 2012, it said in a statement.
One hot spot according to the WEF is the push towards more targeted medicines, with personalised medicine, nutrition and disease prevention coming in at number 9.
"As the global population exceeds 7 billion people - all hoping for a long and healthy life - conventional approaches to ensuring good health are becoming less and less tenable, spurred on by growing demands, dwindling resources and increasing costs," the WEF said.
Advances in synthetic biology and nanotechnology were laying the foundation for a "revolution in healthcare", the WEF said.