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) …
Lighthill, Sir James
Selected quotes:"The Science Research Council has been receiving an increasing number of applications for research support in the rather broad field with mathematical engineering and biological aspects which often goes under the general description Articial Intelligence (Al). The research support applied for is sufficient in volume, and in variety of discipline involved, to demand that a general view of the field be taken by the Council itself.""To supplement the important mass of specialist and detailed information available to the Science Research Council its Chairman decided to commission an independent report by someone outside the Al field but with substantial general experience of research work in multidisciplinary fields including fields with mathematical, engineering and biological aspects."-----"Most workers in Al research and in related elds confess to a pro nounced feeling of disappointment in what has been achieved in the past twenty-five years. Workers entered the feld around 1950, and even around 1960, with high hopes that are very far from having been realised in 1972. In no part of the field have the discoveries made so far produced the major impact that was then promised.""In the meantime, claims and predictions regarding the potential results of Al research had been publicised which went even farther than the expectations of the majority of workers in the field whose embarrassments have been added to by the lamentable failure of such inflated predictions.""These general statements are expanded in a little more detail in the rest of section 3, which has been influenced by the views of large numbers of people listed in section 1 but which like the whole of this report represents in the last analysis only the personal view of the author. Before going into such detail he is inclined, as a mathematician, to single out one rather general cause for the disappointments that have been experienced: failure to recognise the implications of the 'combinatorial explosion'."See also: BBC TV - June 1973 - Lighthill Controversy Debate at the Royal Institution with Professor Sir James Lighthill, Professor Donald Michie, Professor Richard Gregory and Professor John McCarthy.Also in Lighthill, J., Sutherland, N. S., Needham, R. M., Longuet-Higgins, H. C., and Michie, D. (Eds.), Artificial Intelligence: A Paper Symposium. Science Research Council of Great Britain.