There are many definitions that attempt to explain what Artificial Intelligence (AI) is. I like to think of AI as a science that investigates knowledge and intelligence, possibly the intelligent application of knowledge. Knowledge and Intelligence are as fundamental as the universe within which they exist, it may turn out that they are more fundamental.
One of the aims of AI is said to be the investigation of human cognition and AI is part of Cognitive Science. My view is that AI is really an investigation into the creation of intelligence and that there is no reason for the intelligence that is created to be exactly the same as human intelligence. Reading the AI literature highlights several difficulties that arise from the complexity of the subject:
It is difficult for business to see general relevance from AI. This is probably one of the reasons for the compartmentalisation of AI into things like Knowledge Based Systems, Neural Networks, Genetic Algorithms etc. Some of these separate sub topics have been shown to be very useful in solving certain difficult business and industrial problems and consequently funding bodies influence research directions by encouraging work on these more application based areas. This can have a positive effect for business benefit and has lead to some very useful systems that have found their way into the heart of business activity.
Business should not lose sight of where AI could go because there are many potential benefits to current and new businesses of future research. The idea of robotic domestic workers is still far fetched but companies are making progress even here. There is already a Robot Vacuum Cleaner marketed by Electrolux and doubtless improved systems with better functionality will follow.