The term “AI Winter” is referencing to disappointed expectations about Artificial Intelligence. The XOR problem for neural networks or the inability of AI system to understand human language are typical examples. One possible explanation why AI has failed often is, that the total amount of researcher in the domain is only 10000 worldwide. Which means, they have simple not the capacity to develop complex software.
The historic development of AI is roughly connected with the development of computing in general. In most countries it's perceived as a vision for future society.