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) …
In February, I took a job designing the personality of a chatbot called Kai. assistants that she designs, Amy Ingram and Andrew Ingram, schedule meetings over e-mail. Psychologists define human personality according to traits known as the Big Five: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, and neuroticism. Designing Kai, I was able to anticipate off-topic questions with responses that lightly guide the user back to banking, but Alexa and Siri are generalists, set up to be asked anything, which makes defining inappropriate input challenging, I imagine.
Last month, the Washington Post reported on a surprising new job in Silicon Valley: bot-writer. "Increasingly, there are poets, comedians, fiction writers, and other artistic types charged with engineering the personalities for a fast-growing crop of artificial intelligence tools," the Post's Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote. These personalities, Dwoskin reported, will soon be joined by more specialized bots developed by other companies, among them Sophie and Molly, "nurse avatars" that talk to patients about their medical conditions. There's even a "guru avatar" in development, designed to teach meditation. These products are exciting and futuristic--just a decade ago, the possibility of conversing with a computer program seemed like science fiction.