"Artificial Intelligence," as a term, was not invented until 1956, but, as a concept, it goes back much further. As a term, it means the science and engineering of making intelligent machines; as a concept, it means man, through science, creating intelligence where there was none.
Generally speaking, when we think of artificial intelligence, which I will just call AI, we think of computers. Past that, we think of robots. Computers, games in particular, have gotten sophisticated enough that the term AI is already being applied to them even if it's not precisely correct. The thing is is that computers are capable of learning. Adapting. The only real issue is that we're not quite sure, yet, how to determine at what point something becomes capable of thought. Independent thought. Pondering. And how does something become self-aware, which is a component we seem to believe is necessary for intelligence.
At any rate, the idea that computers will achieve the ability to think and become self-aware has been a huge focus of science fiction since before computers were actually a thing. Let's just pretend that that part where humans are trying to build machines that have legitimate intelligence isn't really happening. Or has happened?
Although, Isaac Asimov was not the first person to write about robots, he was the first person to write about them extensively, and his robot stories and novels laid the foundation for all future robot literature. His work is so fundamental, in fact, that people sometimes refer to his Three Laws of Robotics as if they were an actual, real thing, not something from a short story.
I remember the first time I heard of the three laws. It was an episode of Buck Rogers. I was 10 or so. The robot Twiki had had some sort of problem and was being re-booted. He quoted the laws, and the doctor/scientist guy got all excited and commented in awe about how they were hearing (for what sounded like the first time ever) Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.
All of that to say, that Asimov has been instrumental in our cultural understanding of what artificial intelligence is even though he was first writing his robots stories at least 70 years before artificial intelligence would exist. His ability to see the possibilities of what could be were extraordinary.
Why has Asimov become such a central figure in the foundation of literature involving artificial intelligence? Well, I think I have an explanation for this. Robots, machine men, were commonly being used as the symbol for how technology and the pursuit of knowledge would destroy mankind. Yes, this is in the 1930s. But, then, if you look at what was going on in Germany and what would happen in World War II, this is somewhat understandable. Basically, robots were only used as an example of the Frankenstein complex: the creation rising up and destroying the creator. Asimov wanted to change this. He felt it was a tired cliche and supported the view that knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge is bad or wrong. First and foremost a scientist, Asimov believed in the pursuit of knowledge, so he sought to make robots into something more realistic in his writing, not just a symbol of technology leading to our downfall. Not that that is not still a common symbol and fear, but he broadened our horizons on the subject and set the foundation for modern artificial intelligence in fiction.
Just as an aside, the character Tik-Tok from Ozma of Oz is probably the first significant use of a robot with its own intelligence in fiction. The term "robot" hadn't even been invented yet. There are a couple of other earlier mechanical men in fiction, but those works have mostly faded with time, while Baum's Oz books are still read and enjoyed today. That makes Tik-Tok the first (significant) artificially intelligent machine in literature.
But speaking of the Frankenstein complex...
I'm going to make a leap here and say that Frankenstein is really the first source of artificial intelligence in literature and fiction. There are often earlier sources cited, but they involve the use of magic, and I want to confine this to intelligence created through scientific means. Of course, the monster created by Dr. Frankenstein was a human machine, but the intelligence created, the mind created, was new and unique. Shelley's novel may be the first example of technology, of man's creation, rising up against him. As mentioned, it is the name that has come to be applied to those types of stories.
I'm not going to say that we, as a race, are striving toward the creation of artificial intelligence because of fiction, but fiction writers certainly saw it coming long before science did. Because our cultural awareness is so influenced by what has gone before, I would find it difficult to believe that whatever is coming in the realms of artificial intelligence will not have fantasy and science fiction at its roots. It will not surprise me at all to find one day that Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics have, indeed, become reality.