Well, continuing your analogy: to see discrete lines somewhere at all, you will need some sort of optical spectrometer, which requires at least some form of optical tools like lenses and prisms, and they have to be good enough to actually show the sharp spectra lines, and probably easily available, so that someone smart enough eventually will be able to use them to draw the right conclusions.
At least that’s how it seems to be done in the past. And I think we shouldn’t do exactly this with AGI: like open-source every single tool and damn model, hoping that someone will figure out something while building them as fast as we can. But overall, I think building small tools/ getting marginal results/ aligning current dumb AI’s could produce a non-zero cumulative impact. You can’t produce fundamental breakthroughs completely out of thin air after all.