Introducing Sierra: The First AI Experiment by Wilco

Introducing Sierra: The First AI Experiment by Wilco
Written by
Team Wilco
May 11, 2023
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When OpenAI introduced Large Language Models to the masses through Dall-E and ChatGPT late last year, we began wondering how these new resources could transform developer learning.

Could engineers prep for interviews using AI-generated content tailor-made for the company they're interviewing for?? Would AI make it easier to learn how to integrate a new tool into an existing stack? How would you reskill or address a gap in knowledge if you could create a personalized curriculum within seconds? The ideas kept flowing.

We’ve looked at what ChatGPT does well and found a lot of knowledge that can be “prompted” into existence by asking a simple question. But presenting knowledge isn’t the same as teaching, similar to how robust documentation is not a learning course. 

Today, we are excited to show you our first AI-driven experiment—we call it Wilco Sierra. 

Consider what happens today when you need a tutorial or a "how-to" guide. Your success in finding it depends on someone, sometime before, creating that guide. If you're in luck, you'll have several guides to choose from. If not? Well, tough luck. But what if we flipped the equation? What if you could "prompt" a guide into existence simply by asking an AI to create it?

We believe Wilco has the answer to this question!

Wilco + The Power of AI

By combining OpenAI’s API and the Wilco platform with some clever prompt engineering and safeguards, we created an AI-driven hands-on developer challenge generator. Currently, Sierra can create two types of challenges (“quests”): a quiz and a step-by-step tutorial. Both types are playable within Wilco and can be downloaded as YAML files.

Tutorials give you step-by-step instructions. We love to use them when we need to learn the basics of a new service, set something up, or get detailed instructions on fixing something that went wrong. Here’s what they look like:

Implementing Passport.JS in Node.JS helps users understand how to implement Passport.JS

Quizzes can be used to test your knowledge of a specific topic. Tell Sierra what you’d like to be tested on, and it’ll generate a multiple-choice quiz on the subject. Here's an example:

Managing Projects Better With JIRA tests users on managing software projects efficiently using Jira.

You can start testing Sierra AI yourself, here

You can also watch Alon Carmel, Wilco's CPO, give a short Sierra walkthrough:

Before You Start

Wilco Sierra is an early experiment. Sometimes it doesn’t have the right answer or hallucinates, but in most scenarios, its responses were correct and informative. Even at its current stage, it’s an exciting demonstration of what LLMs can do. 

Our main objective now is to make Sierra more reliable, robust, and interactive. For example, custom Wilco quests include automated tests that run on GitHub. AI-generated quests currently rely on self-reporting. Can we generate tests? We sure will try! 

One breakthrough we’re already introducing is AI-generated hints for our quests. Instead of having one or two hints for every step, why not have way more? So now we will! 

The Future of Educative AI

We believe AI will be disruptive for the educational space, and it’s only getting started (you can read our CPO’s AI vision here). 

More broadly, there will be a paradigm shift in learning content production and consumption. At a point when personalized content can be generated within seconds, what becomes important is how this content is presented and whether the way it’s taught can promote better learning. 

At Wilco, we plan to help the market get there. And we truly believe that the best is yet to come.

Try Sierra

Read our in-depth thoughts about generative AI and learning