Academic AI typically doesn't use Perl because AI academics tend to use other languages: Scheme/Lisp, C, Smalltalk, Prolog, Java. This is both cultural (e.g., if you want to be understood, speak the same language everyone else does, or at least your advisor's) and practical (e.g. speed does matter for hard-core research). I suspect that part of the cultural side comes from Perl not being widely taught in university CS courses except as a sysadmin tool, if that assumption is accurate.
As for the monastery, you are defining AI too narrowly, or rather, too broadly: it sounds like the only thing you've searched on are the two words "artificial intelligence". Keep searching and you'll find posts concerning cellular automata, genetic algorithms, neural nets, game playing, etc.
"It's beat time, it's hop time, it's monk time!"