If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Smith, Elizabeth, Whitelaw, John
A superficial look at the artificial intelligence (AI) research being done here could give that impression. General awareness of the Australian AI research community has been growing slowly for some time. AI was once considered a bit esoteric -- the domain of an almost lunatic fringe- but the large government -backed programs overseas, as well as an appreciation of the significance of AI products and potential impact on the community, have led to a reassessment of this image and to concerted attempt to discover how Australia is to contribute to the world AI research effort and hoe the country is to benefit from it. The results of this study were published by DOS in the Handbook of Research and Researchers in Artificial Intelligence in Australia (Department of Science1986).