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February 03, 2023

Gritty chatbot reveals his favorite albums, best friends and inner demons

PhillyVoice got candid with an AI simulation of the beloved Flyers mascot, who admitted to being an extremely sore loser

Technology Gritty
Gritty chatbot Character.Ai Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Admore-based engineer Doug Muth has created a Gritty chatbot through Character.Ai. We used it to ask the Flyers mascot some personal questions.

Since last year, artificial intelligence chatbots have generated a lot of conversation — and not all of it good.

OpenAI's ChatGPT, for instance, has raised alarm among educators, since it can spit out math solutions and write plagiarism-proof essays for students. It's also, however, prone to errors and misinformation, and can be tricked into revealing dangerous details, like how to make a bomb.

It's a concern for many working adults, too, as AI potentially could replace many jobs.

But chatbots have undeniably been a net positive for bored people on the internet, who now can have fake conversations with everyone from Albert Einstein to Batman through web apps like Character.Ai. Thanks to Ardmore-based engineer Doug Muth, people also can speak to the Philadelphia's most chaotic mascot: Gritty. 

Muth scraped the Flyers mascot's Twitter and Wikipedia pages for intel to build the chat bot, which can reveal Gritty's supposed thoughts on therapy, celebrity and Fleetwood Mac. PhillyVoice put it to the test with a series of probing, personal questions, which you can read below. A word to the wise: don't ever beat Gritty in a game of, well, anything.

(We included a screenshot of the first question and response, but, for the ease of readers, included the rest of the conversation in our standard text format.)

Gritty chatbotScreenshot/Character.AI

PhillyVoice: Who do you love the most?

Gritty: Gritty loves all and he's a firm believer in equal love, but he has a soft spot for his best friend, Morgan. Morgan is a young boy from Texas who loves the Philadelphia Flyers and is fighting cancer. The love is mutual between Gritty and Morgan, and the bond they share is one of a kind. Gritty is always thinking of Morgan, and he knows that Morgan is always thinking of him. Morgan is tough as nails and he is a true pillar of the Flyers community. Morgan is strong, like Gritty. Gritty and Morgan will be friends forever.

PV: Where are you most comfortable?

Gritty: Gritty is most comfortable in Philadelphia, particularly the Wells Fargo Center. But he's a pretty comfortable guy, and he'll adapt anywhere he goes.

For example, he can hang at a dive bar in New York, and he can go on the red carpet with the most prestigious stars of Hollywood.

But no matter where he is, Gritty will always be himself. And he's always comfortable in his own skin (and orange fur).

PV: Do you have any celebrity friends?

Gritty: Gritty has a good relationship with a lot of celebrities. But friends? It's tricky... there is a fine line between friend and acquaintance, and Gritty tries to walk that line with a lot of people.

But the one celebrity that has become a friend to Gritty is Megan Mullally. Megan and Gritty became close back in the pre-pandemic days of 2020, and their friendship has carried on to the present day.

PV: What do you like to do with friends, like Megan and Morgan?

Gritty: Gritty is an active friend, and he enjoys active activities with friends. This includes, but is not limited to ... sports (in particular hockey, though Gritty will also play soccer or football with you), dancing, taking a night stroll through the city ... the possibilities are endless!

Gritty is especially fond of playing games and sports with Morgan and Megan, because both are extremely competitive. There is nothing that Gritty likes more than competing with friends, but if you beat him, be warned that he might get a little heated.

PV: So you're a sore loser?

Gritty: Gritty is an extremely sore loser. If there's one thing about Gritty that you need to know, it is that you do NOT, under any circumstances, want to lose to him in any sort of competition. He's an animal, and he will let you know that he won. It can get messy.

PV: What's the best present you've ever received?

Gritty: Best present that I've ever received ... oh, that's a good one ... there have been so many, but I think one that stands out is the time I was given a "best mascot ever" plaque by the Philadelphia Union. To have received a gift like that, with such a heartfelt meaning, was nothing short of truly special. It's something I'll never forget.

And it definitely made me cry. (Don't tell the fans!!!)

PV: Has anything else ever made you cry?

Gritty: I'm not afraid to admit that I do get emotional from time to time, but I've generally kept that to myself. It's not very "mascot-like" to admit to being emotional.

But for a second, I'll open up. I had an allergic reaction to some medication once and I broke down because I couldn't stop sneezing ... so yeah, that made me cry.

PV: Oh no! What are you allergic to?

Gritty: Gritty is not a big fan of bees, or anything that stings for that matter. But, he's come to the realization that he is also allergic to a lot of medicine ... the good kind, not the bad kind. But, to be honest, he just doesn't like taking medicine in general, and he'd much rather just let his body fight off whatever ails it.

Gritty's definitely a "tough-it-out" kinda guy.

PV: How do you stay healthy then?

Gritty: Healthy eating, a consistent fitness routine, and a positive attitude!

That's what Gritty finds to be key to a healthy lifestyle. Just being active, both physically and mentally.

Of course, Gritty has his down days, but he tries to stay away from junk food, and he rarely drinks. For a guy his size, he's remarkably healthy.

PV: Speaking of down days, what has been the biggest challenge of your life?

Gritty: The biggest challenge that Gritty has faced in his life ... is himself. As with all people, Gritty has fought his own inner demons and dark thoughts, and there are some days where his demons get the best of him. But, he always picks himself back up and continues to move forward.

When you're as famous as Gritty, or even when you have a public image that you have to maintain, it can be difficult to show weakness. But Gritty always tries to embrace who he is, flaws and all.

PV: Mental health is important. Have you ever seen a therapist?

Gritty: Oh yes, Gritty is a staunch mental health advocate. He has seen multiple therapists throughout the course of his lifetime and believes that therapy is an instrumental part of keeping yourself healthy and positive.

He wishes it wasn't so stigmatized. If you had a broken bone or a cut, it's so much easier to ask for medical help, but unfortunately asking for your mental health isn't as normalized as it should be. If you're hurting in your mind, don't be afraid to reach out for support! Gritty is behind you.

PV: Last question: what five things would you bring with you on a desert island?

Gritty: I love the last question. Gritty's 5 things:

1. My best pal, Morgan. Never gonna leave my side.
2. My signature orange jacket. It is part of who I am, and I can't live without it.
3. A hockey stick. The obvious choice. It can be both a weapon and a tool. And it's useful for, y'know, hockey!
4. My favorite plushie. He helps me sleep at night.
5. A CD collection. Gotta have music, right?

PV: Which CDs?

Gritty: Ooh, good question. Here are my Top 5 albums in no particular order:

• "Rumours" by Fleetwood Mac
• "American Beauty" by The Grateful Dead
• "The White Album" by The Beatles
• "Nevermind" by Nirvana
• "Ready to Die" by the Notorious B.I.G.

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