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) …
Garis, Hugo de
Within the time of a human generation, computer technology will be capable of producing computers with as many artificial neurons as there are neurons in the human brain. Within two human generations, intelligists (AI researchers) will have discovered how to use such massive computing capacity in brainlike ways. This situation raises the likelihood that twenty-first century global politics will be dominated by the question, Who or what is to be the dominant species on this planet? This article discusses rival political and technological scenarios about the rise of the artilect (artificial intellect, ultraintelligent machine) and launches a plea that a world conference be held on the so-called "artilect debate."