Computers play chess, translate from Japanese into English and vice versa, recognize spoken words, diagnose illnesses--but are they intelligent? Well, yes and no, says the author (a Carnegie Mellon professor), who provides an overview of the basic components of an artificial intelligence system, views of early pioneers in the field, and examples of applications. Any new book on this rapidly changing, inadequately covered area is timely; but this one--though careful and thorough--is less than lively and often seems to be describing topics rather than exploring the real material. For example, the Turing test (human observers guess whether a person or machine is responding to inputs) is outlined, but examples of the near-successes (and some of the hilarious failures) would have illuminated the topic. Similarly, the difference between a heuristic and an analytical approach in expert systems is never made clear; just how a human interacts with one could also have been clarified with examples. Well-annotated list of books for further reading (all adult); glossary. Photo insert & index not seen.