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) …
Akman, Varol, Surav, Mehmet
The importance of contextual reasoning is emphasized by various researchers in AI. (A partial list includes John McCarthy and his group, R. V. Guha, Yoav Shoham, Giuseppe Attardi and Maria Simi, and Fausto Giunchiglia and his group.) Here, we survey the problem of formalizing context and explore what is needed for an acceptable account of this abstract notion.
Akman, Varol, Hagen, Paul J. W. ten
Commonsense reasoning about the physical world, as exemplified by "Iron sinks in water" or "If a ball is dropped it gains speed," will be indispensable in future programs. We argue that to make such predictions (namely, envisioning), programs should use abstract entities (such as the gravitational field), principles (such as the principle of superposition), and laws (such as the conservation of energy) of physics for representation and reasoning. These arguments are in accord with a recent study in physics instruction where expert problem solving is related to the construction of physical representations that contain fictitious, imagined entities such as forces and momenta (Larkin 1983). We give several examples showing the power of physical representations.
Thanks from Jack and Janet Mostow for causing them to meet at AAAI'87 and subsequently marry; a correction to Jordan Pollack's affiliation; a correction to the winter 1988 wording of his report on Workshop on Theoretical Issues in Conceptual Information Processing; an addendum to the Slagle and Wick article in 9, 4: A Method for Evaluating Candidate Expert System Applications, citing Bruno Franck, and comments on Intelligent Computer-Aided Engineering by Kenneth D. Forbus in vol 9, no 3.