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) …
Marvin Lee Minsky, a founder of the field of artificial intelligence and professor at MIT, celebrated his 80th birthday on August 9, 2007. This article seizes an opportune time to honor Marvin and his contributions and influence in artificial intelligence, science, and beyond. The article provides readers with some personal insights of Minsky from Danny Hillis, John McCarthy, Tom Mitchell, Erik Mueller, Doug Riecken, Aaron Sloman, and Patrick Henry Winston -- all members of the AI community that Minsky helped to found. The article continues with a brief resume of Minsky's research, which spans an enormous range of fields. It concludes with a short biographical account of Minsky's personal history.
"Computing can change our ways of thinking about many things, mathematics, biology, engineering, administrative procedures, and many more. But my main concern is that it can change our thinking about ourselves: giving us new models, metaphors, and other thinking tools to aid our efforts to fathom the mysteries of the human mind and heart. The new discipline of Artificial Intelligence is the branch of computing most directly concerned with this revolution. By giving us new, deeper, insights into some of our inner processes, it changes our thinking about ourselves. It therefore changes some of our inner processes, and so changes what we are, like all social, technological and intellectual revolutions. "This book, published in 1978 by Harvester Press and Humanities Press, has been out of print for many years, and is now online, produced from a scanned in copy of the original, digitised by OCR software and made available in September 2001. Since then a number of notes and corrections have been added. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press