So, I totally forgot about posting yesterday. I blame Hana Yori Dango. <_< In any case, here's yesterday's post.
Artificial intelligence is an interesting field, in that you could get a bunch of AI researchers in a room together, and start a fight just by asking one of them to define AI. This is really no surprise; the term "intelligence" is itself fairly contentious, and you could easily start a fight among a room full of psychologists by asking a similar question. The problem is a little more severe for AI researchers, though, since the concept of intelligence is at the core of their field.
Personally, I split AI into two more or less distinct branches: the ones that are trying to imitate human intelligence, and the ones that are doing interesting research. Oh, sure, putting a human brain into silicon is probably possible, and therefore by extension a computer should be able to mimic a human mind. But really, there's nothing magical about the human mind. Why should we be mimicking it? The fundamental properties of transistors are wildly different from neurons. It makes sense to assume that a silicon mind that actually lives up to its potential would be wildly different from our own brain-based minds.
The real question comes back around, then, to how to define intelligence. Any definition broad enough to cover most of what we consider intelligence is also vague enough to be mostly useless when considering something totally new. Furthermore, most definitions of intelligence are prone to trivialities - if you handed them to a clever computer scientist, they would come back with something which satisfies all of your requirements, but simply doesn't seem intelligent. Even seeming intelligent is a bad definition - within a few years, we'll have programs which can pass the Turing test; they can seem intelligent, but do nothing else.
There are other subfields of AI that are actually pretty cool - machine learning, for example, is some seriously neat stuff. Overall, though, I think it's kind of premature to talk about intelligent computers when we don't even know what an intelligent computer would look like.