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) …
"Work on Expert Systems has received extensive attention recently, prompting growing interest in a range of environments. Much has been made of the basic concept and of the rule-based system approach typically used to construct the programs. Perhaps this is a good time then to review what we know, asses the current prospects, and suggest directions appropriate for the next steps of basic research. I'd like to do that today, and propose to do it by taking you on a journey of sorts, a metaphorical trip through the State of the Art of Expert Systems. We'll wander about the landscape, ranging from the familiar territory of the Land of Accepted Wisdom, to the vast unknowns at the Frontiers of Knowledge. I guarantee we'll all return safely, so come along...."AI Magazine 3(2): Spring 1982, 3-22.
Summary of Ph.D. dissertation, Computer Science Dept., Stanford University (1979)."TEIRESIAS is a program designed to provide assistance on the task of building knowledge-based systems. It facilitates the interactive transfer of knowledge from a human expert to the system, in a high level dialog conducted in a restricted subset of natural language. This paper explores an example of TEIRESIAS in operation and demonstrates how it guides the acquisition of new inference rules. The concept of meta-level knowledge is described and illustrations given of its utility in knowledge acquisition and its contribution to the more general issues of creating an intelligent program."Also in:Readings in Artificial Intelligence, ed. Webber, Bonnie Lynn and Nils J. Nilsson, Palo Alto, CA: Tioga Publishing Co., 1981.Orig. in IJCAI-77, vol.1, pp. 321 ff. Preprint in Stanford HPP Report #HPP-77-9.See also: Artificial Intelligence, 12[#2]:409-427. Readings in Artificial Intelligence, ed. Webber, Bonnie Lynn and Nils J. Nilsson, Palo Alto, CA: Tioga Publishing Co., 1981