While watching a good documentary on AI just now, I finally realized what it actually is and why we are so fascinated by it. It is both amazing and mundane at the same time.
As it currently exists, and all it can promise in the future, is the ability to recognize patterns that we, for whatever reason, are unable to see at the time.
So asking a computer 'What is the answer to life, universe and everything?', might not be as absurd as Douglas Adams hoped.