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Amazon's Bezos sees AI at early stages of decades-long trend

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos says we're at the earliest days of artificial intelligence and the influence it will have on consumers' lives.

"It's hard to overstate how big of an impact it's going to have on society over the next 20 years," Bezos said on stage Tuesday night at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

Bezos said the Seattle-based company has 1,000 people dedicated to its Alexa voice-powered platform and spent four years working on it behind the scenes before bringing it to market.

Amazon's Echo, the consumer device that lets customers ask questions, play music and order groceries, has been flying off the virtual shelves since it went on sale last year.

Beyond its own device, Amazon lets outside developers embed Alexa into other products. Bezos said the company's constant building of algorithms, vast computing power and decades of training data from its recommendation engine makes Alexa possible.

And it's only going to get smarter.

"Those three things are coming together to solve some previously unsolvable problems," he said. "They're going to drive a tremendous amount of utility for customers."

Of course, Amazon is becoming a bigger part of all of our lives, thanks to its ubiquitous e-commerce site.

Even as the company invests heavily it its Amazon Web Services cloud-computing division, an increasingly popular movie streaming service and consumer products like the Kindle and Echo, online shopping drives the $100 billion behemoth.

"We really like that business," Bezos told the audience. "I encourage you to shop early and often."

But now some of that shopping can happen in stores.

After decimating much of the country's physical retail business, Amazon has its own book store in Seattle and is looking to add more. It has one coming in San Diego.

Bezos said the experience is a highly-curated one with 5,000 titles based on the data the company has about what consumers will likely want. It's for browsing, not targeted buying.

"If you know exactly what you want to buy we already have this thing called Amazon.com," he said.

Another Amazon product that's booming thanks to customer data is the subscription service Prime.

For $99 a year, consumers get benefits including unlimited same-day delivery on purchase of over $35, music streaming and access to the Washington Post, which Bezos owns.

Customers also get access to much more video streaming content and all of the Amazon originals. Amazon won a Golden Globe award for the fictional World War II series "The Man in the High Castle."

Bezos said that winning the Golden Globe helped the company sell more shoes. Prime members buy more than others because they want to maximize their subscription, he said.

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"It really is a flywheel," he said. "It's become a physical-digital hybrid membership program."

As for going up against Netflix, Bezos doesn't see it. He expects people to subscribe to both.

That's what he wants, at least. Because Netflix counts on AWS for millions of streaming hours everyday.

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.