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) …
An important problem faced by auditors is gauging how much reliance can be placed on the accounting systems that process millions of transactions to produce the numbers summarized in a company's financial statements. In a complex accounting system, it can be an extremely difficult task for the auditor to anticipate the possible errors that can occur and evaluate the effectiveness of the controls at detecting them. An accurate analysis must take into account the unique features of each company's business processes. An auditor uses COMET to create a hierarchical flowchart model that describes the intended processing of business transactions by an accounting system and the operation of its controls.
Automated diagnosis is an important AI problem not only for its potential practical applications but also because it exposes issues common to all automated reasoning efforts and presents real challenges to existing paradigms. Current research in this area addresses many problems, including managing and structuring probabilistic information, modeling physical systems, reasoning with defeasible assumptions, and interleaving deliberation and action. Furthermore, diagnosis programs must face these problems in contexts where scaling up to deal with cases of realistic size results in daunting combinatorics. This article presents these and other issues as discussed at the First International Workshop on Principles of Diagnosis.