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) …
A while back, I went to San Francisco to report a piece about some protests happening in town. The conflict, as narrated in the local papers, puzzled me. Although it supposedly centered on private buses for tech workers, the concerns had a more broadly political air. This was not surprising--San Francisco is the capital of broad politics--but I couldn't see where ideological disputes actually arose. Protesters painted themselves as grass-roots liberals, speaking up for poor, creative, or countercultural outsiders.
In June of 1975, the Office of the White House Press Secretary announced President Gerald R. Ford's picks for the National Medal of Science. One went to the Austrian-born mathematician and logician Kurt Gödel. Nicknamed Mr. Why by his parents, Gödel was known to a subset of his constituents as, simply, God. He received fan mail from all over the world, archiving it into files of "autograph requests," "inquiries from students and amateurs," "letters of appreciation," and "crank correspondence." A self-described "dunce fool of Mathematics" in West Bengal wrote seeking Gödel's "Guruship," and a svelte math teacher in California confessed that she'd taken the liberty of enlarging a photo of Gödel to make a poster for her classroom.