Most people think Artificial Intelligence (AI) is about robots, such as those in the movies. There is indeed some AI work on robots, such as the ones in the pictures below. Robots are being used to collect samples on Mars, carry loads in difficult terrains (see YouTube video), etc. There is even
a robot which tells jokes.
However, a lot of AI has nothing to do with robots. AI is the study of how computation can produce
intelligent behaviour, whether that is in a robot, a mobile phone, an internet search engine, or a computer game.
Sometimes this is done to help produce better machines
for everyday use: for example, software that helps doctors to diagnose illnesses, or video systems that can recognise human faces.
Sometimes this is done to help us understand how people think, with AI imitating as closely as possible the way that the human mind works.
AI is a relatively modern
field (compared to traditional subjects like history or chemistry), having started only once computers came along, in the 1950s.
AI began to consider humour only in the early 1990s, and not a great deal of work has been done on this problem. There is an interesting question:
Joking Computer show "intelligence" or not? Why?
Some links on "What is AI?"
Professor Jack Copeland's ideas
Professor Aaron Sloman's ideas
Professor John McCarthy's ideas
A whole collection of links about AI